{ 1,346 comments… read them below }

    1. Kuododi*

      “I am on my throne so my minions must come to attend my every need Right Now!!!” (This is her current stage of existence as of the taking off this picture!!)

  1. Acne Sucks*

    Has anyone had any success using topical treatments for hormonal acne? I’m really conflicted about it and would appreciate any stories or input.

    I had big red pimples all over my face from middle school until about 2 years ago. I tried a myriad of topical treatments that did nothing—I only got the acne under control (i.e. down to a couple big red pimples a month) using a specific birth control. Which makes sense since it was probably hormonal acne (my Ob/Gyn thinks I have PCOs).

    A few months ago, my forehead and jaw line became covered in tiny, flesh-colored bumps. My dermatologist said it was hormonal acne and prescribed Retin-A. At my 10-week follow up, she said it looked better and doubled the strength of my Retin-A prescription.

    The tiny bumps are still covering my face and jaw-line, and I still get a couple big red pimples each month, so I don’t think the Retin-A is actually doing anything beneficial despite my dermatologist saying it is. And I hate how sensitive it makes my skin—anything I put on it, even moisturizing gel, stings or burns, so my face is always irritated.

    I saw my Ob/Gyn last week and she prescribed a new birth control. I was thinking I should stop the Retin-A and see if the birth control does anything. (If I kept using it and my face cleared up, then how would I know if it was the Retin-A or birth control that helped?) But then I have doubts because shouldn’t the dermatologist know what’s she doing so maybe stopping would be bad? But it’s a topical treatment—how is it going to help hormonal acne?

    1. E*

      Want to put a plug in for Curology – an online dermatology service that sends you a customized cream based on photos you send them. I was skeptical at first but it has done wonders for me (I have battled acne for almost a decade and have been on Accutane 2X). It is expensive ($20/month) but well worth it to me and is cheaper than going to the derm in person. They also suggested I switch my birth control, which I think helped as well, though it killed my sex drive so will need to go back to the drawing board.

      1. Acne Sucks*

        That doesn’t sound too expensive compared to other skin treatments (especially if it works!), but I don’t have more money to throw at this for the moment, so I’ll add Curology to my bookmarks to look at in the future. Thanks!

      2. Photographer*

        Is it like real dermatologists or something closer to estheticians? What kind of custom stuff do you receive? More info, please! :)

        1. E*

          They are real dermatologists/nurse practitioners – I get a concoction of prescription ingredients (mine is zinc pyrithione, azelaic acid, and something else I can’t remember off the top of my head). They also give you advice outside of what they prescribe for you; I can send a photo of a stubborn spot and they’ll recommend that I try this or that over the counter cream. It is also an easy way to get retinoids cheaply; a lot of insurance companies won’t cover it if they suspect you’re using it for anti-aging. There are a lot of people who have used it in r/skincareaddiction, so you can look there for before and after photos and reviews for someone with your skin type (it used to be called pocket derm so you can also search that).

          1. Acne Sucks*

            I’ve never heard of zinc pyrithione or azelaic acid so I am intrigued!

            It sounds awesome that you can just ask them questions without having to go through the whole hassle of making an appointment.

      3. Formerly Finally a Fed*

        Ooh! I don’ know if it was you, but someone plugged Curology previously in an open thread, and I tried it out since I was suffering from hormone and stress-induced acne. I had the same issue that going off birth control really messed with my skin and things got so bad that I was pretty embarrassed about it. I could not be happier with the results from my custom cream – I think this the best my skin has ever looked.

        To answer Photographer’s questions below, my Curology medical provider is a nurse practitioner. After sending a few pics of my skin she proposed the following formula: 8% azelaic acid (anti bacterial, anti fungal), 1% cindamycin (anti inflammatory), and 4% niacinamide (vitamin B3). She recommended a simple regiment of morning: wash face, apply sun screen (she also recommended a couple affordable brands), apply moisturizer and evening: wash face, apply curology cream, apply moisturizer.

        @ Acne Sucks, you can get a free trial, and it will last several weeks, so I’d recommend trying even if you can’t afford to continue, just to see if it works for you.

        1. Acne Sucks*

          A free trial might be good.

          Does the treatment generally have a “purge” period? I don’t want to risk making my acne worse since I’m currently job hunting and having to go to interviews.

          1. Formerly Finally a Fed*

            It didn’t for me – I just started clearing up, but I guess I wouldn’t rule out the possibility?

          1. SciDiver*

            Clindamycin has actually been most helpful to me! I’ve tried a fair range of solutions: hormonal birth control, Retin-A (topical), doxycycline (oral antibiotic), salicylic acid spot treater, clindamycin (topical), etc. I struggled to get into a routine that both worked and I could reasonably do–4 different face washes/creams/gels twice a day plus oral medication was too much. The clindamycin pads were like a lot of other drugstore acne pads, but they worked really well! I liked being able to phase out the oral antibiotics in favor of a topical one, and it doesn’t bleach your clothes like Retin-A will. Two twice a day was easy enough to do and the results were good.

    2. MamaCat*

      Does your dermatologist have an email option for less urgent questions? Because that could be an option; you could lay out your concerns and let them know that you’d like to stop for a bit while going on the new birth control, and how long would be a good amount of time? There’s also the possibility that your dermatologist is wrong, so it might be a good idea to look into a second opinion.

      1. Acne Sucks*

        No, there isn’t a way to e-mail her, unfortunately. I wish there was! My appointments with her are very rushed so there isn’t much opportunity for discussion. (She talks very fast to me, tells her assistant what notes to take, and then is out the door. It doesn’t help that she’s always 45 to 60 minutes late, so I’m preoccupied with worry about how I’m now going to have to make up more time at work.)

        Does my ob/gyn count as a second opinion since I saw her specifically about the acne? Or did you mean I should see another dermatologist? I have other doctor appointments besides the acne-related ones, so having to make yet another doctor appointment right now isn’t doable.

        1. MamaCat*

          I meant dermatologist for second opinion, but talking to your gynecologist would also be a good idea. Would it be possible for you to get a new dermatologist, especially since she always seems so rushed? It seems like you aren’t necessarily happy with your care with her at this point.

          1. Acne Sucks*

            All the “specialists” I’ve ever seen (and am currently seeing) were always super late and super rushed. The only doctor I have that’s on time and isn’t rushed is my primary care doctor. (I’m American. Maybe it’s an American thing? It seems like people in other countries are usually happier with their health care.)

            I can’t make another dermatologist appointment right away for financial reasons.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              From a British perspective, I can confirm that my only medical appointments that were on time where when I had the first slot that day. I know there is a drive encouraging people to book double appointments with their GP for more complex problems (average GP appointment slot here is 10 minutes, but the amount of time you spend with the doctor is probably closer to eight), but often people don’t do that so appointments overrun and then that makes other people later. It’s decades since I had to go to a consultant/specialist for anything though so I can’t comment on whether it’s the same, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Definitely see another dermatologist if you can. This on top of telling you it’s better when you can see it isn’t suggests she isn’t going to treat you appropriately.

          1. Acne Sucks*

            I saw a couple different dermatologists when I was younger, and all the topical treatments they prescribed never helped. I didn’t make any progress until my gy/obn prescribed birth control. Maybe I just need to assume that no dermatologist will be able to treat hormonal acne?

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              There are good ones out there. I love mine (I’m in Canada, to be fair). It took a while to find him, and I don’t know if it’s the same in the states, but here you need a referral to see a dermatologist, you can’t just make an appointment. And our first couple of appointments, he was great: really listened, really looked at my skin, and didn’t go with a nuclear treatment right off the bat. I’ve had bad experiences with some treatments and Accutabe and when I told him, he immediately said we would avoid them. I was in the same boat as you: changed birth control and my skin just exploded: giant cystic pimples all over my chin. It hurt. And I was in my late 20s, and I had teenage students with better skin than me! It was embarrassing.

              I know everyone’s skin is different, and I don’t know your insurance situation, but a few things that worked for me:

              – changed birth control again. I went back to the old one (it was the generic version that killed my skin)
              – a very low dose of spironolactone. I used to take it every day; now I’m only when necessary. If I can see or feel a new pimple forming, I take it and it never gets any worse and heals in a couple of days. (But it can be a bit hard on the kidneys, so the lowest dose necessary is best.
              – blue light therapy. I don’t know how it works (he explained and I forgot; I think it kills the bacteria?) but a few treatments a month made a huge difference. There was another young woman who had her blue light as the same time as me; her skin was in such rough shape, I felt just awful for her. And the blue light was miraculous for her.

              The last thing I love about my derm is that if I do get a bad cystic pimple, I can call in and the nurse will get me in after work, same day, for a cortisone injection. If your derm is rushing you, you need to find a new one, or tell her. I lost it on my family doctor one day for partly that reason: she was always always running late, and that day she’d kept me waiting for almost an hour, and then, when she booked me in for an mri, talked about how if I felt better I should cancel it so I wasn’t “wasting resources” and I kind of told her off about my time is my resource and she wastes it every time I come. I noticed since then, she’s way better. (My chiropractor, on the other hand…)

              Good luck! Adult acne suuuuuuuuucks.

              1. Acne Sucks*

                Maybe I need to move to Canada. :P

                I like how when you told your doctor you had bad experiences with other treatments he immediately said he’d avoid them! At my last appointment, my dermatologist suggested benzoyl peroxide, and when I told her I had a really bad experience with it before, she tried to convince me the bad experience was normal and it’s a miracle cream. I said I’d rather do something like double the strength of the Retin-A than use benzoyl peroxide again, so that’s what she went with.

                Good for you for going off on your time-wasting doctor. :)

                This is the fifth dermatologist I’ve been to in my lifetime. Not many left to chose from! (I wish doctor review sites were more popular. I can’t find reviews for most of the doctors in my area, and the ones that have reviews only have one or two.) I think I’d rather try Curology (as mentioned above) over another dermatologist. It sounds a lot more personalized, they’re available for questions, no long wait in the waiting room, and a bunch of the active ingredients they use are ones I haven’t used before.

                I googled the blue light treatment. It sounds promising but I can’t do it right now (I can’t keep taking off from work, and I’m not sure if that’s something my insurance would cover).

                1. Middle School Teacher*

                  Curology sounds great, I actually bookmarked the page myself, just in case. I find I felt some mini-breakouts that don’t warrant dermatologist intervention but are worse than OTC can treat.

                  But please tell your derm she’s rushing you! And she needs to listen! It’s so aggravating. Good luck!

                2. Observer*

                  OK, you’re doctor is officially an idiot. Someone who tells you that your side effects didn’t happen should not be practicing medicine. It’s not like there are no know effects of the medication (as is true for just about every medication on the market.) It may be a wonderful choice for most people, but there ARE people who have side effects, even to the best drug. Ignoring that is just irresponsible.

            2. Observer*

              There are decent dermatologists out there – and the best one WILL tell you when the topical treatments won’t work.

              But, you’re not going to get the treatment you need when your doctor is prescribing based on her expectations rather than facts. If you are saying that it’s not improving and she says you are, it sounds like she’s not looking at you – and I’m betting she doesn’t have a picture to compare with either.

              So, step one is finding someone who is ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION.

    3. Mmmm S’mores*

      Id be careful of taking away 2 products and then using a different one all in one shot. It would be difficult to narrow down whats going on. Always change one variable at a time

      1. Acne Sucks*

        Changing one variable at a time makes sense. I’m not sure if the Retin-A counts as a variable though since it didn’t have any effect (it didn’t help my acne and it also didn’t make me break out, it just made my face super sensitive).

    4. Book Lover*

      If it is around jawline and you think it is hormonal, then spironolactone often works well and is cheap. Your gyn or pcp can prescribe it.

      1. ronda*

        I will 3rd spirolactone. when i had to go off birth control, I had my worst acne ever…. on birth control I usually got a pimple every few months. On antibiotics I usually got one or 2 a month. On spirolactone I get a few a year.
        they do regular blood tests to make sure it isnt to the point where it is hurting the organs… so watch your dosage.

        I have creams and never thought they worked on me.

        My friend got bad acne after pregnancy and had to go to a different doctor to address it cause the first one just made it worse. If you are not getting the service and results you want….. Don’t see that doctor.

        1. Acne Sucks*

          Spironolactone! I’ve read about that and it sounds like it would help hormonal acne. I’ve never asked for it though because, from what I’ve read, it might have bad interactions with some other medical issues I have. I don’t want to chance it since it took so long to get the other issues in remission. I’d rather have a zillion bumps on my face than be sick all the time.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            I also mentioned spironolactone in my giant comment above and I can’t say enough good stuff about it. It works like a charm.

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              Oops, I missed the rest of your comment. Yeah, it might not be great if it has interactions.

      2. Catherine*

        Spiro has worked miracles on me. I can’t say enough good things about it. I was already prone to low blood pressure but I don’t think it’s made that any worse.

    5. LilySparrow*

      Pardon me if you’ve already tried this, but for me, the tiny red bumps in localized areas are usually contact-related, as opposed to the big ones that appear in more random spots.

      For me, hairline and jaw are usually because I’ve developed a sensitivity to my hair products – often a fragrance, but sometimes another ingredient.

      Have you tried switching your shampoo, conditioner, styling products, etc? Try 2 weeks on a different, hypoallergenic or unscented brand and see if anything changes.

      1. Acne Sucks*

        I actually originally went to see the dermatologist because I thought it was an allergic reaction or some other skin problem and couldn’t figure out what it was from (I hadn’t had any diet, laundry detergent or skin care changes). She assured me it’s hormonal though (closed comedonal acne).

        I just googled contact dermatitis, but that looks like a red rash and is supposed to be itchy. My bumps are flesh colored and aren’t itchy at all.

        I’d been using an unscented moisturizer on my legs for a while and accidentally got the one with fragrance last week. Didn’t think it’d matter much but my legs are itchy now, so I understand how irritating some ingredients can be. :/

        1. LilySparrow*

          No, I don’t mean a contact dermatitis rash. You’re right that it’s different than the small bumpy acne.

          I mean that some products make me break out in acne, and it’s different-looking than the larger angry-looking ones that I get at certain times of the month. I had to change my product lines a couple of times a year until after I had my kids. I don’t seem to react that way anymore now that I’m in perimenopause, which makes me think hormones are a factor somehow.

          It’s just a wierd thing that I discussed with my doctor at the time, who basically shrugged and said, “nobody really understands this stuff completely, because people are different, so do what works.”

          So if the other stuff doesn’t help, it’s something to try.

          1. Acne Sucks*

            Oh! Okay. I misunderstood.

            I think I should be okay as far as moisturizers and face wash go since I started totally new ones about 10 weeks ago and there hasn’t been any change in my skin.

            I’m halfway through my current bottle of shampoo, so I could try just buying a new brand when I run out. I use a plain shampoo with nothing special in it, so shouldn’t be hard to find an equivalent in another brand.


          2. Gatomon*

            +1 After many years of slathering my face in OTC creams to try and kill the acne, I went on a week-long trip and forgot the creams. I also forgot all the exfoliating products, all I had was a basic face wash. I didn’t want to rebuy and haul home my entire array of products again. I expected to turn into a pizza face, but my acne actually started to clear up! Turns out a lot of my acne was caused by irritation from all the products I was using to kill the acne.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          Have you considered they could be milia? Basically they’re little bumps caused by a buildup of products in the pores (makeup, face cleansers, etc). They look like pimples, like whiteheads, but they aren’t. They aren’t infected or anything, but they are hard lumps that are impossible to shift. The only thing that that got mine out was either GlamGlow Super Mud (super expensive at Sephora) or I’d get a facial and the esthetician would get them out. I’m not saying your derm is wrong but if she’s that rushed, is she taking the time to really look at your face? You could be putting yourself through a lot of treatments for nothing.

    6. Applesauced*

      I went in Auctane for 6-12 months in my mid 20s to clear up cystic acne and since have had great results with teatree oil as a toner.

      R/skincareaddiction might have more specific suggestions

    7. J.*

      I have very, very similar acne issues to what you’re describing and I agree, it sucks!! Retin-A eventually did help the closed comedones go away for me (mostly), but doesn’t seem to do much for pimples. I’m still trying to find something that really works for those…

      Not sure if you already tried this, but in terms of skin sensitivity, I stopped using the Retin-A daily and instead went to every other day, which helped a lot. Retin-A ended up working for my skin in the long haul, after regular use over about 6 months, but I didn’t even notice any improvement until like month 4 of using it (not sure how long you’ve already been on it).

      Best of luck to you!! Hope you are able to find something that works for you!

    8. ISeeYouRN*

      I had really severe hormonal acne, and I found cutting out dairy cured it. Better then topical, birth control, multiple rounds of accutane (don’t recommend this, it’s napalm to your body :/), proactiv- you name it. So it might be worth a try, if you’re willing.

      Also, the NIH released a study that found spearmint tea (vs peppermint, etc) was highly effective in balancing hormones and reducing hormonal acne. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19585478/

      So cutting out dairy & drinkng spearmint tea might be 2 non-invasive options to try :) good luck!!

    9. ISeeYouRN*

      My first comment disappeared- I used to have really similar acne (it sounds like) to yours- big hormonal cystic acne. I tried everything, accutane (# rounds, don’t recommend) topical, proactiv etc. I found quitting dairy cured it. ‍♀️ I had to go scorched earth on the dairy front initially and now I can eat cheese, yogurt etc without immediately breaking out in a cyst (more complex diary products essentially).

      Also, the NIH found that drinking spearmint tea made a huge improvement in hormonal acne. So those are 2 fairly cheap/easy options to try. :) good luck! It’s so lame dealing with adult acne.

    10. RestlessRenegade*

      I don’t have any acne advice because that’s the only good thing about my genetic makeup, BUT solidarity for a fellow PCOS cyster. I’ve read that something like 10% of people with ovaries have it and many don’t know it, and while it sucks that there’s no real cure, it’s important to treat the symptoms! I hope you get the care you need and deserve.

    11. Ann Nonymous*

      Go straight for Accutane. It’s a miracle medicine. I wish they had it when I was a teen/young adult/30 year old.

    12. Marguerite*

      I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this. I’m in my early 30s and still dealing with acne. I was on the birth control route because my Derm wanted me on Accutane, but I didn’t want to go on it because I didn’t think my acne was bad enough and to be frank, I was scared of going on it.

      Anyways, these are the products that I currently use: I rotate between using Adapalene gel and Epiduo. There is a new product that combines Epiduo with another one (I forget the name, but I saw a commercial for it), but I haven’t tried it yet. There was another one that I tried that made my skin itch. I was on Differin back in the day… I also use a prescription face wash with sulfur (Sulfacetamide) that I use as a mask or as a face wash.

      I hope you find a treatment that works for you! I have a huge honker on my chin right now, so you have my sympathies. This is a real pain!

    13. Incantanto*

      Have you had a hormone levels check? Mine found too high levels of testosterone and I went on an anti androgen for a year and it was amazing. Skin so so much better.

      Unfortunately I can see it slowly coming back now I’ve had to stop it so I’m now on accutane. Yay. Monthly blood tests to check for absence of babies is less than ideal. Neither was starting it in a heat wave during the world cup (you can’t drink and sunburn easily). My friend had it before me and the results are stunning.

    14. Observer*

      If you don’t think it’s helping, then stop. Your dermatologist SHOULD know what she’s doing, but you are the expert on how you’re doing. So trust your judgement. Retin-A is not purely topical, even though that’s why you apply it, so it could theoretically help.

      Having said that, you don’t really risk anything by stopping treatment. At the very worst, if it’s really helpful, stopping will make the problem worse, and you can re-start applying it.

    15. Observer*

      By the way, if you have PCOS, getting changing your diet can often make a real difference. It’s also worth having your doctor check for Insulin Resistance (IR), as it’s very common in women with PCOS.

      While women who are overweight tend to see the most change from diet, even lean PCOSers tend to benefit.

    16. Mimosa Jones*

      My experience is 25 years old, but while the treatments have changed bodies haven’t. I had pretty clear skin until college when I developed cyctic acne. My primary doctor kept trying antibiotics, which didn’t work, and acutane, which did but the results only lasted a year. Then I saw a dermatologist who put me on a low androgen birth control and retin a. And that worked. Mostly the birth control. I didn’t like the retin a and discontinued it pretty quickly.

    17. Traffic_Spiral*

      There’s a reddit community called SkincareAddiction that talks about this stuff all day long.

    18. ShortT*

      Mine began to clear when I began a K-beauty regimen. I saw more improvement when I added tretinoin cream and clindamycin pledgets. Getting a three-month dose of Lupron and my stubborn fibroid surgically removed finished the clearing.

    19. Doreen Green*

      I know this isn’t helpful if you want to stick with topicals, but Accutane is the only thing that has worked for me. I had terrible cystic acne that appeared in my teens, calmed down, and came again when I hit thirty. Topical treatments mostly just made my skin feel irritated and bleached my clothes. Minocycline made me feel really spacy out and distracted, and Spiro left me perpetually thirsty and exhausted. Doxycycline would work for a month or two, but as soon as I stopped taking it the acne would come back. You can’t take the antibiotics long-term, and for many people a couple of months on the antibiotics helps improve things so you can tackle the acne with topicals–not for me. Eventually my dermatologist asked me to consider giving Accutane a try. I was hesitant, but since you’re required to have monthly blood tests and doctor’s appointments, my dermatologist and I agreed to discontinue immediately if anything made me uneasy. I was on a low dose for about a year with no side effects except for dry skin. No breakouts since!

    20. SS Express*

      Honestly if what your dermatologist suggested isn’t helping, stop using it and stop seeing her! She doesn’t sound great. Dermatologists aren’t always the best skincare experts either, because although they obviously understand the medical aspects better than the average person on the street, they aren’t necessarily keeping up with all the latest research into general skincare products. As you noted it’s pretty hard to cure hormonal acne with topical treatments so you might find the new birth control is more helpful (or if not, try another until you get one that is).

      What topicals can do is calm the inflammation and clear up said acne faster. I don’t know all the best products for this because my acne is mostly not hormonal, but I’d recommend doing a bit of research and really understanding what’s happening with your skin and how different ingredients can help to treat it. Check out SkincareAddiction on Reddit, Skincare Jesus on Tumblr and Caroline Hirons blog. The Paula’s Choice Beautypedia is useful too although some aspects of their approach are questionable so don’t treat it like a bible.

  2. Weekend anon*

    Does anyone know how to tell the difference between a life that’s content and one that’s stale? I’m lonely, but not lonely enough to actively look for a partner. I have a small, but close group of friends. I have a (redacted) I like and a budget that works, but I find myself looking just to mix things up. I eat the same food for lunch every day. I spend most of my nights and weekends relaxing at home washing tv. I honestly can’t tell if I want more than this.

    1. WellRed*

      I think if you are asking, you might need something more, even if its something small. I am in a similar situation, without the workable budget.

    2. hermit crab*

      A few questions for you:

      Do you actually want things to be different, or do just you feel like you *should* want that? Personally, I’m a homebody and a creature of habit, and I’ve struggled a lot with the latter – but I recognize that for what it is, and I try not to confuse it with actually wanting more excitement (or whatever) in my life.

      Also, how do you feel when you *do* do something different, even in a small way? Do you feel energized, or does it stress you out? Are you relieved to get back to your routine?

      1. Weekend anon*

        It depends on what I do. If I’m with friends I’m fine, but things I’ve done with strangers—taking an art class by myself,going to a party where I only know the host and they’re busy etc—never seem worth the effort. I am a homebody but I love to travel—with someone. So I guess there’s also the case of wanting to do things but not wanting to do them alone

        1. hermit crab*

          Ah, that makes sense. Are your close friends also homebody types or do they like to go out and do new things? (Somehow, I ended up with a bunch of “want to be doing things all the time” friends who do more things on a single Saturday than I would do in a month of weekends. They get me out of my comfort zone, when I let them.) Even if you’re friends with mostly homebody types, I wonder if any of them might feel similarly to you in terms of wanting to do more stuff.

          1. Weekend anon*

            A little bit of both, but most of them are partnered up and have larger friend circles so often they have other plans haha. So there’s some of that when the others are free

        2. Uyulala*

          What about like an acting class? Or joining a sport team? It would start with being with people you didn’t know, but since you all would be working together regularly then you can become friends.

    3. Artemesia*

      The question I think answers itself; you are feeling restless or you wouldn’t be asking. But for those of us for whom there cannot be too much nothing to do, tweaking one’s life makes sense rather than massive changes. Why not experiment e.g. get involved in a local photo group, join a new meetup around some interest you have, take a class on a topic you always found interesting (Russian Icons, African history, modern money theory — etc). Maybe there is a local group that does neighborhood walks in your city every week or month. Start planning an outing with friends once a week for a film or dinner out or whatever i.e. start with your basic placid life that seems to be working pretty well for you and then just tweak it a bit and see if you are happier.

      1. Weekend anon*

        I’m not sure if restless is the right word–more just tired of answering “what did you do this weekend?” with “nothing,” even though I had a great time lazing around my apartment. It just feels like I should be doing more, especially as an abled bodied 20 something

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Where do you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, etc. You have at least 40 years until retirement, what would you like to do in those years? What would you like to do in retirement?

          1. Weekend anon*

            Ha, those are the kind of questions that make me completely freeze up. I have no clue whatsoever. I’d like to get a dog at some point, but after that everything is up in the air. How do I figure that out?

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Dog parent here. My bias will show.
              So start by figuring out what it will take to set yourself up to get a dog. What are the steps to make this addition to your life?
              My wise friend use to say, do what is right in front of you. Once you do your next steps will become apparent. On your way to figuring out what to do to get a dog and getting that dog, it will become apparent to you what you would like to do next. Tricky part, until we do what is right in front of us, the future stuff remains hidden. This was what my wise friend believed. It seems to work in my life.

              1. Thursday Next*

                I’m going to take your wise friend’s advice myself. It sounds like a logical companion to mindfulness meditation practices.

            2. Rookie Biz Chick*

              Maybe it’s a great time to budget a few weekend hours getting to know a local rescue org or shelter. Join volunteer events, go walk a dog or two, get to know dog parents! Admittedly this could be a lot of expended energy, but may be a huge dose of reality of how a new pet might fit into your life – while doing soooo much good!

              All the best.

        2. The Person from the Resume*

          Maybe you should not say nothing, but say
          “I binged watched X.”
          “Took care of my house”
          “Shopped and cooked a great x”
          “My normal routine”

          I could be the framing. You did something even if it’s not unique to that weekend. It could be you think you should feel negative about doing “nothing” but in reality you have quiet, refreshing weekends.

    4. A bit of a saga*

      I recently read ‘The Happiness Project’ which is basically about increasing your happiness across a number of metricss and situations. What I liked about it, though, is that it also talks a lot about finding out what actually makes YOU happy rather than what you think should make you happy. It inspired me to sit down and think thoroughly about what truly gives me pleasure – and also what ideas I should simply discard because they may be great for others, but not for me. As an example, I may well think I should do something more productive with my time than hang out on Ask A Manager – learn a language, go to the gym – but I enjoy reading the weekend open chat so I should actually prioritise doing it rather than feel guilty about the time ‘wasted’. It doesn’t fully answer your Q but I recommend the book for inspiration.

      1. Parenthetically*

        YES. I always think of Runaway Bride in situations like this. It’s the proverbial “but how do you like YOUR eggs?” situation.

        I actually love doing not much on the weekends. Grab a coffee every other weekend with a friend? Maybe eat lunch at a favorite place with my husband? Yep, I like those things. But I try to limit the “stuff” so I can potter around the house and tidy up and fold laundry in front of an episode of Queer Eye too, which I really enjoy.

        1. Jaydee*

          I think of that particular Runaway bride recerence all the time! Even in high school, I could identify so much with the feeling of always taking on things that others like/want and not really being able to pinpoint what I like/want.

    5. LilySparrow*

      What do you feel is your long-term purpose or contribution to the world? When we’ve reached a level of meeting our baseline physical and emotional needs, we feel the need for purpose. This is a fundamental part of being human.

      What’s your “why?”

        1. Artemesia*

          You find out what works by doing stuff. Sitting there waiting for inspiration is not going to work.

        2. Lissa*

          It can be really hard to separate “what I want” from “do I just want this because of societal expectation”, in both directions. I mean, the obvious “I think I want this, but I actually just keep hearing about how I should” and the other way “this societal thing is expected…but I realize I do actually want it.” I think trying things is the best way to do it for sure, even if sometimes you think “well, I’d rather have sat at home with Netflix than gone to that art class” there isn’t much opportunity cost lost there because you can Netflix next weekend, you know? Just make sure you’re still doing enough homebody stuff you do like.

          My example – I like staying home but realized that I wanted to be more physically fit and try more exercises. I questioned “am I just doing this because of expectations to look a certain way” but after getting in a habit of doing some exercises, starting with just long walks, I realized that I do really really enjoy it and get a lot out of it. I’m never going to be winning competitions or races but my quality of life has gone up and I enjoy sitting at home for a day (like today!) more, too, when it is a more occasional thing. Your thing might not be exercise but it could be you’ll find something you like as much as being at home and then be able to do that sometimes, and also stay home sometimes.

        3. LilySparrow*

          Well, I’m religious, so there’s a lot of material in that context like “A Purpose-Driven Life” that’s helpful.

          If faith-based is a big turnoff for you, there’s a lot of resources on finding purpose in your career, but less for a holistic view of life in general. Psychologically, it’s a process of seeking meaning with community through service and intentional exploration of where your gifts meet the world’s needs.

          So maybe finding people you can talk with about purpose, what it means to them and to you, would be a first step.

    6. epi*

      Some people are just homebodies. I do find it’s easier if you stop imagining everyone else is doing something cooler and better, and answer honestly rather than with “nothing”. “I started a new book and ended up reading it all weekend” or “I finally caught up on Stranger Things” or “I cooked my favorite recipe” are actually quite fun, relatable things to many people and there is definitely nothing embarrassing about spending your free time that way.

      Short term therapy, or finding a book on this topic, might be a good choice. There could be a lot of different things underneath getting sort of restless! Anything from needing to sell all your possessions and sail around the world, to just needing a minor change, to fixing some avoidant behavior, to realizing your life works for you and you just need to own it.

    7. Nacho*

      I often wonder the same thing, and it can sometimes be hard to tell if I’m really feeling unfulfilled, if if I’m being made to feel unfulfilled by a society that’s spent the past 30 years of my life telling me that the life I have now isn’t one worth living.

      It helps to remember that I chose this life; I could do pretty much anything I want right now, including take a vacation, go back to school, put more effort making friends, or put any effort at all into getting a girl or boyfriend. But I’ve tried all of that before, and never really liked it, which is why I stopped. Society pushes a certain lifestyle of going drinking every Friday with friends and vacationing in some tropic area whenever possible and all sorts of other stuff that just isn’t for everybody. If you’re content now, than that’s more than most people can say. And if you’re not, maybe try a few small changes like spending some extra time to make a really good lunch every once in a while.

  3. Annie Moose*

    I have an etiquette hypothetical I’ve been contemplating and I’m curious what other people think. This isn’t an actual situation I’m in, but something I read inspired me to think about it.

    Suppose you have a friend who is getting married/graduating/having a birthday/having some other life event that necessitates buying a gift. The friend asks that in lieu of gifts, people donate to a particular charity instead. The only problem is that you deeply disagree with this charity’s mission or how they carry out their mission.

    Should you donate to the charity anyway, even though you don’t support them or their work? Should you have a conversation with your friend about why you don’t support the charity? Should you donate to a similar charity you agree with more? (e.g. your friend asks for donations to Autism Speaks and you donate to ASAN instead) Should you give them a different present and pretend you didn’t know/forgot about the charity thing? Should you not donate at all and just never bring up the topic???

    I’m very curious what you would do!

    (and let’s ascribe good motives to the friend and assume the organization in question isn’t a literal hate group or something like that)

    1. heckofabecca*

      I would probably donate to a similar charity (great example with ASAN!). I believe some charities will alert people if you make a donation in their name, so if there was a way to add a comment there I’d say something like, “In honor of X & Y and in support of their cause, with an eye to [whatever it is you prefer about org2].”

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      If it’s a friend who I know is rational, I’ve told them, “hey, I really like you idea of donating to charity. I’d rather donate to Dogs Are The Best charity rather than Dogs Are Only Okay charity for some personal reasons. Is that okay?” And if they ask or are a bit taken aback, I explain why I prefer one charity over the other. Most people don’t really investigate charities and their inner workings, and just think of it as donating to charity and doing a good thing. I’ve found a lot of people who are surprised when they learn about some issues with charities (Salvation Army’s homophobia comes to mind and how people are still shocked when I explain why I won’t support them).

      1. Daring Greatly*

        I thought the same thing about Salvation Army for the longest time…I heard that they don’t donate to LGBTQ+ families in need. However, I think that was a rumor that was started that isn’t actually true (https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/nodiscrimination/ and https://salvationarmynorth.org/about-us/what-we-believe/lgbt-statement/). I still don’t drop my change in the red kettle because there are other charities I’d rather give my money to, but it’s nice to not be disgruntled every time I pass a jolly bell ringer.

      1. LilySparrow*

        I think this, or a gift certificate as mentioned below, would be my route.

        I don’t think the conversation would be a good route unless you are super, super close. Like, “invited into the labor & delivery room” close. Or “my one phone call from jail” close.

    3. Shay the Fae*

      Defiantly do not donate to the bad charity. I might or might not talk to the friend, depends on how close we are and other factors. Like how much energy I have.

    4. chickaletta*

      I wouldn’t talk to the friend to explain why. Life has taught me that those types of conversations don’t go over well. (Look at it from your friend’s point of view: she’s already chosen the charity, announced to everyone that’s the one she wants them to support, and now she’s hearing that someone doesn’t like it. Even if she changes her mind and agrees with you, she can’t tell everyone to donate to something else instead so she’ll probably just end up feeling bad about the whole thing.)

      I would either donate to a similar charity or buy her a gift. You won’t the only one, I guarantee someone else will show up with a present in hand too.

      Finally, this is why you don’t tell people what to get you for a gift. I understand the good intentions behind it, but geez people, it’s 2018. Dear Abby has been around for decades and we’re still doing this?

      1. GiftsSuck*

        absolute nonsense

        the dramas and woes of gift giving are multiplied at least tenfold if the receiver won’t declare what they want

    5. Artemesia*

      I am never contributing to a charity whose mission I disagree with. It is one thing if I am just not that interested in it e.g. the local Macrame Museum or a fund to create dog parks or something. But if they actually advance a cause I oppose, no way I am donating. If I wanted to donate I’d pick a neutral cause similar to or at least not in conflict with the suggested one. i.e. don’t make a point of opposing their group — just do good in a different direction.

    6. Temperance*

      I might forego the donation and get her a gift certificate for something tangible, like a restaurant or a massage. I wouldn’t donate to a similar org, and I wouldn’t tell her why.

      1. Anonymosity*

        This is probably what I’d do. If it’s a wedding, I would give a gift cert for something she could share with her spouse. If it’s a baby, I’d give one for things she might need, or for a night out and offer to babysit or give funds to pay for a babysitter. I’d make sure it was something that either didn’t expire or had an expiry date well into the future.

        And I’d say something like, “I know you didn’t want gifts; however, I wanted you to have this [thing, experience] to help you celebrate [life event].” If she said anything about the charity, I’d just say with a smile, “My donations for the year have already been allocated for tax purposes —” and shift the focus back to her “— this is about you and your day/kid/husband, etc.”

    7. Lcsa99*

      I would just give them a check. They can then either use the cash of donate it as they see fit. Since it’s their special event I wouldn’t want to sully it by discussing the problems with their choice of charity.

    8. Cheshire Cat*

      For me, it would depend on what my objections to their preferred charity are. If their charity is less efficient with donations than another one with a similar mission, I would donate to their preferred one but tell them about the other one. If financial mismanagement is an issue, I’d donate to the other one and explain why.

      And if there is an ethical/religious/political reason that I object to their charity, I would find something in an adjacent area that my friend and I can agree on, and donate to that. To use All aboard’s example, I might say that because I’m a cat person, I’d rather donate to Cats Are the Best than to Dogs Are Okay.

    9. KayEss*

      Personally, I think having a “your charity is bad” conversation in this circumstance is probably at least 75% likely to permanently damage or completely destroy your relationship with that couple, so I would absolutely not go that route unless my objections were so significant as to put the relationship at risk either way.

      Also, as someone who went the “please donate in lieu of gifts” route with my wedding, it was literally 95% because we didn’t want to receive ANY gifts at all–I did not notice or care if people just didn’t donate. Donating to an alternate charity and making sure I knew would have made me straight-up angry, however, not because I had any particularly deep loyalty to the charity we chose, but because it would be a deliberate thumbing your nose at my wishes and acting like you know better than me about what I should want. Several people also did wind up giving us tangible gifts despite direct instruction otherwise, and it was pretty annoying! Don’t do that unless you’re close enough with the couple to be absolutely sure you’re giving them something they will love–also maybe give it to them some time before or after the wedding itself, as they may very well not have a system to deal with physical gifts at the planned ceremony/reception.

      If you’re dead-set against donating to the selected charity but also unable to go without giving a gift of some kind, a gift of cash or a check enclosed with a nice card as mentioned above is probably the most diplomatic option.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Gift requests, including requests for charitable donations, are suggestions; they’re not orders. You’re definitely under no obligation to treat them as an order. It’s perfectly fine to choose another gift, whether it’s a donation to another organization or something else entirely! (In fact, etiquette says that it’s a bit rude for a gift-receiver to assume they’ll be receiving gifts, and thus they shouldn’t be directing people on what to give them at all.)

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I honestly never understand this rule because people still have registries and if there’s not a registry, there are guests who are bound to get annoyed. Tbh I think this etiquette rule is a bit outdated since most people are giving gifts for major life events regardless.

        1. JamieS*

          Agreed. I think that rule is only really applicable in how someone should react if they don’t get a gift or the gift isn’t something they like. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with essentially saying “if you decide to give me a gift here’s what I’d like” which is basically what registeries/gift requests are so long as the requestor isn’t being demanding.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The etiquette rule on registries was traditionally that your friends/family members would let people know where you were registered if asked, but that you wouldn’t promote the registry with your invitation (because that would convey that you were expecting gifts). Obviously that norm has very much changed, though.

          Still, though, the core concept here is that people cannot treat their hopes for gifts as orders to their guests.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          When you’re doing registries following etiquette, it’s pull vs push . People can pull the information from you or your family (ie, they can ask if you’re registered, and you can tell them). But you can’t push the information on them (like listing the registry in your invitation, or announcing that you only want cash). And if people get a gift that’s not on the registry, you accept it graciously.

          In the OP’s situation, I’d probably just send a card a card and good wishes. I mean, they’ve indicated that they don’t want physical gifts, and I wouldn’t want to donate to a charity I had issues with, so why stress out figuring out how to sneak in a gift they’ve announced that they don’t want.

          Personally, I have no problem if someone says that they don’t want/need gifts, even though that’s also not strict etiquette (again, the assuming that guests will be buying gifts). But I resent it when someone outright tells me what I’m going to spend my money on.

        4. Gaia*

          I literally hate registries for this exact reason. You put one together because you are *expecting* gifts and etiquette says that is rude. During life events where most people have registries I’ve taken the stance that if someone wants to get me something, I would prefer they choose it for me rather than select from a prescribed list that I chose myself. And don’t even get me started on people who ask for cash (or to help pay for the wedding or honeymoon or house…..)

          1. PhyllisB*

            I get that; Gaia. I don’t really mind registries if it’s someone I don’t know really well but want to commemorate the occasion, but if it’s a couple who already have everything (married before or older and had an established household) I would be happy to contribute to a honeymoon fund. I would much rather do that than donate to a charity.

            1. Gaia*

              So here’s my thing with honeymoon (etc) funds. If you offer it that is fine. They shouldn’t be suggesting it though. I’m all riled up about this because my best friend’s brother is getting married and they “registered” except their registry is a honeymoon fund and a house fund. And they put both on their invitations. It just…..nope.

          2. all aboard the anon train*

            I guess I just don’t understand why it’s rude to ask for cash or donate to charity or say, “these are the things I’m interested in”. If it’s considered socially polite to give a gift for a wedding, it makes it easier to say what you’d like than making people guess. I’m probably going to return things I don’t like that someone chose for me.

            I’m more aggravated by the whole fake politeness that basically stems around not talking about money or gifts even when you know someone is going to buy one for you.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Me too. Sometimes I want to get a gift, but I don’t know the person well enough to have any idea what their taste in housewares is or whether they could use new towels (my cousins, for instance) so a registry is great.

              For my own wedding we stressed that we didn’t expect a gift, but I know my family and they would have turned up with suitcases stuffed with things that we then would have had to lug across the country on the train, and which we had nowhere to store because we lived in a tiny, tiny student flat at the time. So we suggested gift cards to two particular stores so that we could buy appliances when we bought a house. I would have been perfectly happy with no presents but I knew that if I told them not to get us anything they would have got us things we really didn’t want instead, so this was a good way to direct that impulse. It’s not that I’m not grateful or just want their money, but there are only so many cute coffee mugs, handmade hot pads, or plastic novelty items that I can handle.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                This. I find people who want to give their own gift tend to buy things they like, not things the recipient likes. I’ve seen one too many friends and family members get gifts from people that the giver loved but was not the recipient’s style or something they’d ever use.

                It just makes it easier to know if people want cash, gift cards, or specific items. Getting worked up about it is some archaic pearl clutching about social etiquette that doesn’t really make sense in today’s society anymore.

              2. Roja*

                I’m the same way. When I got married, we had a very small registry because we were already in our own houses and didn’t need much. Unfortunately, this meant that people who didn’t know us as well got us a lot of tchotchkes which neither of us needed or wanted or honestly liked even the tiniest amount. I so appreciated the thought and kindness, but I kept the things out of guilt for a few years and then quietly got rid of them. But the money gifts were appreciated beyond measure; we had very little income and were able to put them to all kinds of uses.

                It’s a shame because when I give gifts for weddings, I would be really sad to know my gift was so disliked/unuseful that it was quietly and quickly discarded–I gave it because I wanted it to be useful! Gifts are supposed to be desired by the receiver, not given just to make the giver feel good. So we always give money or get something off the registry. No off-registry gifts for us except in the case of *extremely* close friends who we know well enough to get them something very special. I much prefer to know what I can give that’s actually wanted, and if there’s no registry, it’s money. No question of money’s usefulness!

              3. Marion Ravenwood*

                Agreed. We had a small gift list but didn’t put details in the invites, though we did send them to people who asked. However, when people asked what we’d like we said ‘don’t feel you have to get us anything, but if you’d like to we’d really appreciate cash to furnish our new house or US dollars for our honeymoon’ (we’d already paid for our flights and hotel). In the end we got a mix of cash, US dollars, vouchers and about seven physical presents, only one of which wasn’t to our taste, so I think we were very lucky in that regard.

                For me it’s about giving the person what they’d like, especially if I don’t know them that well. So I’d much rather someone said, ‘actually, we’d like money/vouchers for this shop’ than not give me anything to go on. My fallback in that situation is vouchers as it feels a little less impersonal, but ultimately I want to give the person something they genuinely want and will use/love rather than something I think they’d like.

            2. Gaia*

              I find it rude because gift giving is supposed to be about taking the time to pick out something special for the individual. Asking for cash (or anything in particular) 1. assumes you are getting gifts which is rude and 2. is telling people what to give you and that you don’t want them to spend the effort to think of something nice, just cash.

              Now, if someone wants to give cash as a gift that is entirely different.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                But it’s also “social etiquette” to give gifts for weddings or showers or holidays, so it just seems like such an over the top act of politeness to pretend that you won’t get a gift at one of those events, and that you shouldn’t dare suggest something you may want. This is why people end up with gifts they end up regifting or throwing out.

                Maybe it’s a regional or cultural thing because everyone I know sends out holiday gift lists or registries and it’s not seen as a faux pas. So, you know, it’s not rude in all situations. I’d find it rude if it’s considered polite to send a registry and you showed up with a gift off the registry. That’s breaking social etiquette in my area.

              2. GiftsSuck*

                No no no no no no

                By specifying what you’d like you are sparing your friends the burden of choosing a gift and yourself the burden of pretending to like it

                1. Annie Moose*

                  As someone who is extremely bad at picking out gifts for people, precisely this. I love you, hypothetical friend/relative, but I am very bad at picking out things people will like. Please give me a list of things you would like so I can be sure that you will actually like and use your gift! I would feel terrible getting you something you don’t want or can’t use.

            1. Thlayli*

              Which is to say… etiquette changes over time. This rule of etiquette came from a time when most people didn’t move in together till after they got married, so they needed loads of household things. That’s no longer the case. I personally am not a fan of registries and didn’t use one when I got married. Now I have a wardrobe full of vases, candlesticks and wine glasses, most of which were obvious regifts – which I am slowly regifting on again.

              I’m lucky in that I could afford to buy my own house and pay for my own honeymoon, so I’m not bothered. However it really did bring home to me why people use registries. In this day and age, The curcumstances have changed. The etiquette has changed. it’s perfectly fine and acceptable for someone to include a registry with an invitation.

            2. Gaia*

              I do know that. And that doesn’t change anything in my opinion. This is the etiquette I was raised with and is the etiquette nearly everyone in this area follows.

              Also, the most recent guidelines I read (as recent as last year) were that registries should not be on invitations as it is seen as a “gift grab.”

              1. Thlayli*

                “The most recent guidelines” – from whom? There’s no official committee of etiquette! I certainly wasn’t asked to vote for one.

                “What I was raised with” times change

                “what most people in my area follow”. Seems like your area is a little unusual in this respect.

                If you choose to follow specific rules from specific people then that’s totally your choice. But from what I’ve seen the majority of people these days don’t agree with your opinion on this topic. You are of course entitled to your opinion and can follow it for your own wedding. But most people are going to follow the rules they agree with for their own wedding.

    11. Aphrodite*

      I wouldn’t do it. Her asking me to support something that goes against my own ethics and values is unacceptable. I wouldn’t go into a rant or even a long explanation (unless asked) but I would not donate to that charity or even that cause through another charity if it was important to me. What else I might do is to give a substitute gift. Perhaps even a gift card to a local or online store that is a favorite. The purpose of the gift/donation after all is to celebrate the life event with that person. If I felt the person would be insulted or drag up drama if she didn’t get the donations she wanted I would probably just go with a beautiful card and heartfelt wishes and no gift. No one should ever be asked to ignore their own values.

    12. epi*

      My husband and I had suggested charities in lieu of gifts for our wedding. The answer is no, do not give to a charity you don’t support.

      If your friends are doing this, they don’t want gifts and unless they are really weird, they are not keeping track of who gave. Some people gave us a gift or did nothing and that was all lovely, no hard feelings about any of those choices because we are not monsters.

      Also IMO if people want to do this, it is thoughtful to suggest more than one charity for exactly this reason. We suggested three: a civil rights organization (mine), a literacy charity (his), and a food bank that served our neighborhood (ours).

    13. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would not donate to the charity, and also I would not substitute by giving some other gift.

      If they ask for donations to charity in lieu of gifts, then I take them at their word that they don’t want gifts. Any gifts.

      If I am not a fan of the charity they suggest, then I don’t give to that charity. Unless the friend has access to the charity’s donor records, they will never know whether I gave or not. Maybe after the end of the fiscal year the friend will get some publication from the charity that lists recent donors’ names — but even if so, there’s no way for friend to know that I didn’t ask them to list me as “Anonymous” or to leave my name off the list completely.

      Finally, everybody should keep this on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” level. Friend shouldn’t ask, and maybe-donor shouldn’t volunteer that they didn’t give. There is no way to have a pleasant conversation about this.

    14. Former Employee*

      “Should you donate to the charity anyway, even though you don’t support them or their work?”

      My problem with this is that you are saying that you don’t support them or their work, but then you would choose a similar charity. I don’t get it.

      When I’ve seen this question posed in connection with what I assume are real situations (presented to an advice columnist as being a genuine dilemma), as far as I can recall, it has always been a question of the writer not supporting the group or their work as in the mission of the organization is to convert gay people to being heterosexual.

      If I thought the cause was worthy, I would contribute, even if the specific organization is not the one I would normally have on my list.

      If I thought the cause was awful, then I would question my friendship.

      1. Lasslisa*

        Sometimes people have incomplete information, or charities may misrepresent or partially conceal their actual practices. So say someone really wants to help the poor, and so they give to a charity that claims to help the poor, but actually the charity has a history of embezzling or poor financial management such that most of the money goes to the people running it. Or the charity says they’re helping the poor, but also discriminates against minorities or against gay people (the case of the Salvation Army which one poster mentioned above they won’t support).

        The issue isn’t disagreement with the stated mission of the charity, it’s disagreement with the actual practices and implementation. but there are lots of other charities out there with the same stated mission.

      2. SS Express*

        Did you see the original example of Autism Speaks vs ASAN? Both are related to the same cause, but Autism Speaks has attracted criticism from people who believe that it doesn’t really serve the interests of people with autism. So if you agree with your friend that helping people with autism is good, but don’t agree that donating to Autism Speaks is going to achieve that, you might make a donation to ASAN instead. Obviously if you objected to the very notion of supporting anyone affected by autism then you wouldn’t donate to a similar charity…but hopefully not many people feel that way, most would be objecting to specific organisations rather than charitable causes generally.

    15. mreasy*

      I suggested charity donations if people insisted on wedding gifts. We had 3 nonprofits listed, but some folks donated to different orgs in our name. It was totally fine with us!

    16. Thlayli*

      Hmmm. I think it would depend on the type of charity and how much you disagree. For example if you think they do good work but you just don’t think they are the most efficient in their sector, I would donate. If you think they do good work but you really disagree with some aspect of how they do it (eg they help homeless people but have a bad track record of helping gay homeless people) then I would donate to a charity that does similar work but in a way you agree with (eg donate to a homeless charity that doesn’t discriminate). If you strongly disagree with the entire goal of the charity (eg it’s a prochoice charity and youre pro life or vice versa), I would just give a different gift and say nothing.

    17. CheapskateAnon*

      I’d take the opportunity to spend zero dollars on the event (wedding, shower, graduation, whateveritwas) and not get hassled about it. I wouldn’t donate to the objectionable charity, and I wouldn’t buy a gift. If asked, I’d lie and say I donated. I’m not at all interested in giving or receiving material gifts. I realize this is not a popular approach to this topic. But it is mine. If you’re sick, I’ll gladly weed your garden, wash your clothes, drive you to the doctor, clean your house or make you a meal. If you’re on vacation, I’ll babysit your cat/dog lovingly and attentively. If you need a lift to the airport, I’ll probably volunteer. But I’m tired of our materialistic culture, and I’ve dropped out of it. And, no, I don’t want to argue about it.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        Gently, I would just do the card and not lie. Be true to yourself; you share some values here (not a material gift being your common goal.). It would be valuable to put into the card – and on your calendar – a commitment to make them a meal (or loaf of homemade banana bread or something along the lines of your list) and deliver it “after you’ve settled in….” and follow up with it. If they are close enough that you feel that way about them – that you would babysit the cat – then you wouldn’t want to sully the relationship with the lie. Or go silent, give the card with your glowing wishes, and let it go. I’ve done that,too. (when I didn’t know them and figured I was on the guest list in a daisy chain reason – ie, knew their mom and was such a distant relative that I couldn’t pick them out of a crowd). Or had my own reasons for not wanting to give them a gift, and didn’t care what they thought. Just be true to yourself.

        1. CheapskateAnon*

          I am true to myself. I lie because it’s the easy way out, which is very much my when it comes to dealing with b.s. The lie hurts no one and saves me time. No hassles, no arguments, no hurt feelings, no need to explain. I’m a big fan of the social lie. I’m not looking for teachable moments. I’m looking for the easiest way to not take part in the gift-giving ritual. Lying works for me. I understand others have scruples about social lies. I don’t. It is very much an expression of who I am: someone who doesn’t want to waste time on nonsense.

    18. Jenny F. Scientist*

      In similar situations I have even contributed to a completely different but (to me) unobjectionable charity, like the local food bank, or UNICEF children’s fund, or a local public school. I think it’s fine to donate to a slightly different, more effective/less objectionable charity as well!

    19. LGC*

      Well, like, how good is the friend?

      It’s actually great that you brought up Autism Speaks vs. ASAN because that brings up a really good side issue – there might be information your friend is missing which causes her to support an organization like Autism Speaks (which is more well-known than ASAN right now). If they’re a good friend, I’d probably explain my concerns about how the charity carries out their mission – for example, that I think Autism Speaks privileges NT voices over those of people on the spectrum, and their depiction of people with autistic spectrum disorders is kind of ableist. (Or…in less activist-y terms, I don’t like that Autism Speaks is dominated by people without autism, and the baggage that comes with it – for example, their depiction of autism as this terrible disease that you should feel sorry for people for having.)

      Otherwise, if they’re more acquaintance-level, I’d honestly just write them a check and let them do what they want with it. Money is money. If they want to donate it, they can donate it. I’d feel off about donating to a similar organization that I personally agreed with more – in the case from above, even though I think ASAN is better, the gift isn’t really about what I feel like, and I’d find that rather patronizing. (And as much as I hate to admit it, I think Autism Speaks has good intentions – they’re just rather misguided.) Even if they’re a close friend, I’d still try to hew as close to the gift as possible without actually doing it – in this case, I’d still give them cash even if they insisted that I donate to Autism Speaks in their name, although I’d bring up the idea of donating to ASAN instead.

    20. Safetykats*

      Yeah, about a quarter of the people we invited to our wedding totally ignored what we suggested. The most successful off-list gifts were gift cards, some for nice restaurants, some for home improvement and garden stores. The least successful were small appliances in colors that totally didn’t go with our kitchen. In short, if you ignore their request you will be in good company, and no explanation is necessary.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Anyone else following the Thai Cave Rescue story? I spent an inordinate amount of time reading articles last night and I checked for updates first thing this morning.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’ve been following it a little. I was thrilled when the boys were found alive and I’m staying hopeful that they’ll be able to get out safely.

      1. dorothy zbornak*

        I’ve been following and that is also basically my worst nightmare so I hope everyone gets out safely (and soon)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I was just saying last night that I seriously don’t understand how people find enjoyment in diving underwater in dark, narrow caves. Or climbing a mountain that is littered with bodies. I am just not a thrill seeker.

          1. Anonymosity*

            I’d climb Everest in a heartbeat if I could afford it and were experienced enough to tackle it (and I weren’t afraid of heights, haha). If I were to ever do that, I’d leave instructions with my family to just leave me . Use me for a climbing landmark–I’m cool with that. Maybe say hi on your way past. :) I don’t really care what happens to my body (it’s just a vehicle for my consciousness) and it would be nice to be in such a beautiful and amazing place for eternity.

            Because look at this 360-degree view from the summit. Just look at it. http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen2/full22.html

            Since I probably never will, I’ll settle for a trip to the Himalayas and maybe to Base Camp.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I am terribly claustrophobic yet fascinated by this story. So every time I read an article or watch something on the news or listen to a story on the radio, I have about five minutes before I have to stop. I found the Chilean miners’ rescue much easier to manage. Also hoping the boys come out safely and soon.

    2. annakarina1*

      I haven’t followed it much, but I was sad to read that a diver died in the rescue efforts. That makes it much more sadder and more difficult, but I do hope they are successfully rescued.

    3. nep*

      It’s just stunning and nerve-wracking. So sad about the diver who died recently. Can’t imagine what the families are going through. May they all make it out safely and bravo to the team working on this rescue effort.

    4. Artemesia*

      It seems very unlikely they will be able to extract these kids alive; imagine taking a weakened kid who doesn’t swim through km of flooded narrow passages with a diving mask where you can’t wear scuba because the passages are so narrow. No way they are getting a dozen kids out alive that way; it would be lucky to get half of them out. The man who died was placing oxygen tanks and was a seal and he still got caught and drowned. Imagine now weakened young kids with no diving experience. And it is dark.

      I hope they can come up with a way to get to them another way but that is apparently also not likely. Last reports the oxygen in the cave is low and hard to replenish — again by bringing tanks miles through flooded passages. And of course when the monsoons start the cave may entirely flood. This is not likely to end well. Sure hope it does.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That’s what I’m afraid of. But if they do manage it, it will be exactly the sort of uplifting and inspiring thing that the world can sorely use.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, like the landing on the Hudson. Am still in awe. And the woman pilot later on, awesome stuff.

    5. Cheshire Cat*

      Yes, I’ve been following the story, too. I was so glad that the boys and their coach were found alive, and then so disheartened when the rescue diver died. Those kids are untrained, so if a trained diver died, it’s unlikely that the kids will be able to get out. Still hoping for a miracle, though!

      1. Fiennes*

        I can’t for the life of me understand why the kids were taken there to start with. If you could not easily leave a place under virtually any weather conditions, why would a bunch of children be brought there? I’m not trying to cast blame—maybe it’s common enough that the risks were effectively erased. But part of the tragedy is how unnecessary this all is.

        1. LCL*

          They weren’t taken there. They rode their bikes there after soccer practice. That’s the sort of thing kids that age do.

          1. Anon today*

            Their coach is there with them, the plan was that the kids–who had gone into the cave before–were going in deeper than they had before. The parents may not have known, however.

          2. En vivo*

            They were taken/guided there by the adult coach. He had done it before, but this time they ran into trouble.

        2. Courageous cat*

          It was open till July, it closes in July due to monsoon season. So as far as they knew it was safe to enter, but the rains started early.

          Obviously it would be wise just to avoid the whole thing altogether for the rest of all time, but they weren’t entirely out of their minds for going, as some people (not you) have suggested.

        3. Gaia*

          They had no reason to think it wouldn’t be safe. It is actually a really popular cave for people to go into. They went into it June, and monsoon season isn’t supposed to begin until July. The rains came early and they got trapped. There is no blame here, just sadness.

    6. LCL*

      I was obsessively, but I cut way back as the news is getting dark. My emotions can’t handle stories of kids in peril, unless I know the story ends well.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I first ran across it when they were found alive, and was astonished–both at “are alive” and “divers kept looking and found them way off where they thought they might be.” But I don’t think a movie of the week outcome is in the cards, and in some ways it makes me shiver at the feel-good stories we’re drawn to and what they’ve programmed us to expect–it’s like the flip of “Why doesn’t law enforcement just shoot everyone in the leg, like on TV?”

    8. Courageous cat*

      Yeah, I spent like 3 hours on it yesterday. I can’t stop obsessively refreshing the news for it. I hope there’s a new development because I still don’t like the diving idea, unless they find a way to sedate them (I think Xanax for all would be quite helpful, honestly).

      Fingers crossed maybe Elon Musk’s teams can do something too.

      1. AnonAtAllTimes*

        Now it’s four out as of 6:25 A.M. Pacific Standard Time per the New York Times. I don’t believe in God, but I’m certainly hoping they all make it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          WaPo still has it at four. Hallelujah. So glad they decided it was better to try while they had whatever limited air and physical reserves they still do.

          WaPo had a good story about the assistant coach yesterday–young guy, was a monk but left the monastery to look after his ailing grandmother at the end of her life, he and the head coach use the team to encourage kids to apply themselves in school with soccer gear for good grades. And that the local feeling veered more toward “thank heaven he was there to look after them” than “obviously the caves were too dangerous to enter.”

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            BBC was reporting four and they are taking a break now to rest and replenish supplies before bringing out the rest!

            Cautiously optimistic!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I read that he taught the boys to meditate, that helped to keep them calmer.
            Apparently he went in looking for them as they had gone on their own into the cave?

            This guy is going to get employment offers from all over the world. (Yeah, I am kind of thinking that this rescue will be successful. Please let it be so.)

    9. SciDiver*

      I’ve been following all the updates I can, I’m surprised more people I know aren’t talking about it! I’m a diver (as the name implies) but cavern diving is the limit for me, cave diving is extremely treacherous and people die doing it regularly. Reading about the conditions and the terrain, it seemed nearly impossible to even find them, but they’ve gotten 4 of the boys out alive! Some of the maps and illustrations of the passages has also be really illuminating, it’s one thing to picture a 2.5′ x 2′ opening, it’s another to have a picture showing the scale with a person there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am still at, “I can’t believe they even found them!” Am holding on to the idea that they were found alive so that means they will all get out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Incredible. These folks are truly awesome. And I am so happy for the 13 that these people came forward to help.

  5. Intel Analyst Shell*

    I’m looking for pirate/mermaid/ocean themed song recommendations. Daughter’s 1st birthday and our 5th wedding anniversary is in a couple of months and we’re having a (obnoxiously large) mermaid & pirate themed party. Problem is when I search online the only songs I can find are from the Little Mermaid, and while I included a few, she’s my least favorite Disney Princess (fight me). I’m open to ALL genres of music, heavy metal mermaid song? Bring. It. On.
    I’ve got some Jimmy Buffet, Pirates of the Carribean, and a couple county songs (Kenny Chesney I think) already added.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Alestorm is a pirate-themed metal band! Unfortunately many of their songs are… not necessarily appropriate for small children. They do have my favorite cover of “Hangover” of all time, though–what better band to sing that song than a bunch of pirates?

      Nightwish also has a pretty song called “Turn Loose the Mermaids”, not at all sure it’s what you’re looking for, though! It’s not really about mermaids.

      1. Intel Analyst Shell*

        I just Youtubed Alestorm and they are perfect! (Not just for the party but to also add to my daily life.) Thank you!

        1. Intel Analyst Shell*

          Beach, ocean, nautical – all fine. I guess anything related to salty water? :)

    2. Mmmm S’mores*

      My toddlers are obsessed with “Baby Shark”. Its a silly little song my husband found on the internet, Amazons Alexa plays it alot for us now.

      1. Temperance*

        Do you know the dance?! I used to do it at cheerleading camp, lol. See if you can find it on YouTube.

    3. MamaCat*

      Try searching for sea chanties! (Also spelled chanty or chantey) Not as many mermaid songs, per se, but you might be able to find more songs you like.

      1. MamaCat*

        The Mermaid is a popular sea chantey, I tried to post a link but I’m guessing Alison needs to ok it before it’s posted, but a number or groups have done it.

    4. fposte*

      I have no idea what the availability of these is:
      The Decemberists’ “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” (not technically piratical, but nautical and near-enough)
      The Arrogant Worms’ “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” because it’s funny
      Shaun Davey’s _Granuaile_, an album of songs about the legendary Irish pirate Grace O’Malley

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I missed that there was a small child involved. I don’t think there’s any swearing in these, but they’re not gentle–sorry!

        1. Intel Analyst Shell*

          Not gentle is fine! Her favorite song at the moment is Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” so ya’know. I didn’t even think about the Decemberists’ song, I love them. I’ll listen to the other suggestions as well.

      2. kmb*

        YES to Last Saskatchewan Pirate!!!!

        I would also suggest looking at the Sea section of the songbook Rise Up Singing, except that I can’t find a songlist. (My parents are into folk music so a bunch of their recreational activity involves singing songs from Rise Up Singing with their friends, which shaped my childhood). However, Rise Again does have a songlist online, and if you scroll down to the Sea and Sailors section here, you can check it out: https://www.riseupandsing.org/songs/lists/chapters — and then you can find recordings as this does not sound like it’s intended to be a singalong party (though sea shanties are obviously intended to be sung communally so like, that would make it more realistic ;) ).

        I would also suggest Northwest Passage and Barrett’s Privateers (which got captured already). Also Come Take a Trip in my Airship.

        1. fposte*

          Ooh, if you like the Claudia Schmidt/Sally Rogers version of that on top of everything else we’ve established considerable sound library overlap.

    5. heckofabecca*

      Some of these are more sea-related than anything more specific, but I love watery music so hopefully there will be a few you like too!

      – Instrumentals! Other than PotC, you might like: Whale Rider OST (“Paikea’s Whale”), Atlantis: The Lost Empire OST (“The Secret Swim”), Ponyo OST (“Mother of the Sea”), “Aquarium” by Bruno Coulais, “Harp and Sea” and “Miniature of the Sea” by Feabrik, “The Seafarer” by Marc Jungermann, “Arctic” by Sleeping At Last

      – sea shanties/folk songs: “The Maiden and the Selkie” by Heather Dale, “Skye Boat Song,” “Sea Invocation” by Marianne Asjiki Lihannah and Catharina Rickett, “Wade in the Water,” “The Leaving of Liverpool”… Just google sea shanties and you’ll get a bunch of options!

      – more modern stuff (probably least topical…): “In The Sea” by Ingrid Michaelson, “The Sea” by Carbon Leaf, “The Fisherman’s Lament” and “Banks of Newfoundland” by Great Big Sea

      The link I added is to my 8tracks collection of folk/ocean/sea music playlists by various users there… You might find some more stuff there. Congrats to you and happy early birthday to your daughter :)

    6. NeverNicky*

      Barrett’s Privateers is a great pirate song but not very cheery for a party (Weddings Parties Anything or Swill Odgers).

      1. fposte*

        OMG, how could I forget Stan Rogers! In addition to Barrett’s Privateers, The Mary Ellen Carter has a chorus that will have you stamping on the picnic tables.

        1. Plant Lady*

          “The Mary Ellen Carter” is one of my “Deserted Island” MP3s! And if you’re going to get Stan Rogers doing TMEC, don’t pass up “Athens Queen” and “Flowers From Bermuda”…

          Other suggestions: “The Wreck of the Julie Plante” by Mustard’s Retreat (and others…I just like their version)
          “Captain Kidd” by Great Big Sea
          “Scalliwag” and “Lovers Wreck” by Gaelic Storm

    7. Lily Evans*

      Emily Kinney has a song called Mermaid Song, it has a really cool underwater vibe to it!

      1. Lily Evans*

        Also Far away by Ingrid Michaelson, Shark in the Water by V V Brown, and Under the Blue by Hayley Kiyoko have very ocean-y vibes. And Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard for an early ’00s throwback for the adults?

    8. PolicyChick*

      I can’t think of -specific- mermaid/pirate, but ocean beach themes are big in The Beach Boys’ repertoire (‘Kokomo’ is a happy song!). You might check out the musical ‘Once on This Island’, and maybe look into some Jamaican artists.

    9. Heather*

      We did an “Under the Sea” party for my daughter’s birthday. The sound track included:
      “The Tide is High” Blondie
      “Sea of Love” The Honeydrippers
      “Beyoond the Sea” Bobby Darrin
      “Baby Beluga” Raffi
      “Clamshell Clap” Johnette Downing
      “Ocean Foam” The Hit Crew (basically generic luau music)
      “Whale of a Tale” from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
      “Surfin’ in My Imagination” Ralph’s World
      “Sail Away Ladies” Dan Zanes

      1. LCL*

        What? You didn’t have Rock Lobster by the B 52s on your playlist? An under the sea party sounds awesome!

    10. SemiRetired*

      I like “Candle on the Water” from Pete’s Dragon. It’s not much of a party song, though… perhaps a lullaby after the party, or a slow dance interlude.

    11. LCL*

      Lots of Beach Boys songs. And Rockaway Beach by the Ramones. The Ventures have surf guitar stuff, like Wipeout and the Hawaii 5-0 theme.
      Under the Boardwalk, Walkin’ in The Sand, Brandy, Green Eyed Lady for the retro part.

    12. LilySparrow*

      There’s a kids’ cartoon series called Zig & Sharko that features a singing mermaid, but I’m not sure if you can get the music separately.

    13. scratchedagain*

      If you’re okay stretching the pirate part to ‘airship’ pirates Abney Park is a pretty fantastic band. More Steampunk/Victorian in look and feel, but they’ve got several ‘nautical’ themed albums. The Aether Shanties album is the first that comes to mind, it’s on YouTube in its entirety if you want to give it a listen.

    14. Jayeraye*

      Warning: none of these are particularly kid friendly.

      Abney Park has an entire pirate themed album called Aether Shanties. Also a song called Airship Pirate.

      Flogging Molly songs called Seven Deadly Sins, Salty Dogs, and Drunken Pirates.

      Go forth and party! And remember that International Talk Like a Pirate Day is in September.

    15. Daphne*

      May already have been mentioned up thread but the theme song from “Help I’m A Fish” has jettisoned into mind from the depths of my childhood. On googling the band were called Creamy. Sets the tone for a terrible but catchy pop song!

      1. Elly*

        Oh yes, I LOVED that song! And now it’s stuck in my head XD “I’m a little yellow fish in the deep blue sea”

    16. Rick Tq*

      Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance should be a goldmine. “With Cat-like Tread” is real hoot and reworking the lyrics of “Modern Major General” could also work if you have a singer in the crowd.

    17. Ann O.*

      Most of what I would recommend is already covered, but what about Moana songs for kid-friendly ocean alternatives to The Little Mermaid?

    18. buttercup*

      If you’re interested in other Disney soundtracks, I like Lilo & Stitch for beachy themed songs. I haven’t watched Moana yet but maybe that too?

      1. buttercup*

        “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” and “He Mele No Lilo” are my faves from L&S!

    19. Natalie*

      Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires (alt-country, married) have a duet called Mutineer that is both nautical themed and romantic.

    20. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      How about some of the songs from the Moana soundtrack?

      You could also go the sea shanty route, which will open up a lot of options (Great Big Sea was a popular band — I believe they even have a song called The Mermaid).

    21. Delta Delta*

      “Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys has good pirate lyrics. Written by Woody Guthrie, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard a version other than Dropkick.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Yes! Shipping Up to Boston is awesome! (It was written by Woody Guthrie?!? You learn something new every day.)

    22. Alice*

      Not pirates per session, but rollicking sea songs – The Irish Rover. Have fun! Get all the kids to turn around nine times.

    23. waffles*

      Not exactly pirates but there are a lot of great sea shanties like barretts privateers or old maui or ladies of spain or tobacco island. You can often find the sea shanties in different styles (a capella, metalish, punk). our kid loves the ones with drums and strong chorus.

    24. NiceOrc*

      Coming in a bit late here, but how about The wreck of the Diddley, by Fatcat and Fishaface? They sing songs for children and have several albums. I’ve only heard The wreck of the Diddly because it was made into a picturebook, but I can see they have several other sea-related songs. This is their website: http://www.fatcatfishface.com/music_page.htm

    25. A. Ham*

      There’s a really funny pirate song in the spongebob squarepants musical that i’m pretty much obsessed with. it’s called “Poor Pirates”

  6. WellRed*

    My friend’s mom, my Other Mom, was found dead in bed ( peacefully). It was a shock and yet not. My grief is nowhere near that of friend, and because her mom was a hermit, many folks here never got to know her. Mutual friends don’t know what an influence Other Mom was on me, but I feel I gotta keep grief somewhat to myself. Then, I got into a huge, admittedly drunken fight with my mom over Trump of all stupid things, making me feel even lonelier. Other Mom was a liberal hippie.

    1. Gdub*

      I’m so sorry. You are lucky that you had another mom, and your friend is lucky to have you to help her now.

    2. Nynaeve*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t think you have to pretend not to be sad– it’s a huge deal! And I think it’s pretty normal for grief to make you angry. In a way, you’re mourning the mother you chose for yourself, and it’s easy to see all the ways the mother you didn’t choose isn’t like her. Right now, I’d look for friends who can support you and try to find ways to process your feelings and memories. Internet hugs if you want them.

    3. Cheshire Cat*

      I am so sorry for your loss. Don’t feel that you have to downplay what you’re feeling because your friend’s loss is greater!

      Also, if you have access to an EAP, please utilize it soon. This is one of the reasons it’s there, after all.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My condolences to both of you for the loss of Other Mom. I hope you both find some relief in knowing that you both see/understand the hole she left behind and the gaps she filled while she was here.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I’m so sorry. You loved her, so of course you are grieving.
      Loss is not a competition. You don’t have to compare “qualifications.”

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t think you have to keep your grief to yourself as long as you’re asking for support from people other than the daughter.

      You have my sympathy. Be gentle with yourself.

    7. tara2*

      My advice with this is to be there for support for your friend, but find a separate friend who can support you in this. Basically, I don’t think you ought to make your grief the Child Friend’s problem, they have their own grief to handle. But, you can find a mutual friend in a moment when Child Friend isn’t around and make them Support Friend.

      You can say something like “I don’t know if you know this, but I always thought of Child Friend’s mom as my Other Mom and I’m taking this really hard. I want to be supportive of Child Friend, but I think I need to talk about my grief somewhere too. Can we talk about this?”

      I hope you feel better, and so sorry you are going through this.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        +1. And do talk about Other Mom when it comes up, but realize that Child Friend will be processing grief at a different rate and way than you… when your paths intersect, share the good memories. But walk your own journey… you will be surprised at the number of times and ways that her beloved memory surfaces for you. Sometimes months from now.

    8. Kuododi*

      Grace and peace to you and your beloveds. Give your friends and family the honor of supporting you in this time of loss. You are in my heart.

    9. Sarah G*

      Sharing grief with your friend could be healing for both of you. That is my experience in similar types of scenarios. I don’t know the exact reasons you feel you need to keep your grief to yourself, but you don’t! If mutual friends (or your own separate friends and supports) don’t know what an influence she was on you, you can share that with a select few who are close to you, and let them know you are having a hard time.
      Also, I’m not sure about your relationship with your mom, aside from politics, but if you are close in some ways, and haven’t made up with her, it will probably help you feel a little better if you make up with her. And if you are close with her, let her know you are having a hard time with this loss.
      I also second the EAP suggestion, if that’s an option, or if not, just seeking out some therapy in general is always a good idea when you’re grieving. I’m sorry for your loss, and hope you consider reaching out to get some support, whether from friends, family, a therapist, or any combination thereof.

    10. OlympiasEpiriot*

      So very sorry. Do what you need to for yourself and for your friend as you can.

  7. Handy Nickname*

    Hello everyone! Beautiful Saturday morning here. I’m planning to clean up my house and trying to come up with a few errands to run this afternoon.

    What do you do to get out of the house when you don’t have specific plans? I live alone and I’m not great at getting stuff done if I just stay home all day- I’m way happier if I can get out and do anything.

    Stuff I like to do in my free time:

    Need new litter, so wander around fleet farm to two hours to pick it up

    Go shoot at a recreational archery range near me for an hour

    Driving to bigger metro area < an hour away to pick up my favorite drink they don’t sell in my town at a store where my friend works so I can give him a hug and catch up

    Go see a movie

    Drive around on backroads and try to find new shortcuts to friends’ houses/I places I go

    What do you do when you want to leave the house?

    1. Shay the Fae*

      Walk my dogs!
      Also it’s a beautiful day here. I’m so glad the heatwave broke.
      Just walking in general is really nice, there are lots of nice little bits of nature I like to enjoy.

      1. Handy Nickname*

        Aw I wish I could walk with a dog. I have a bunny right now, but she just makes me want to stay home and play with her, so not very helpful for getting out of the house, but I love her.

        Any suggestions on finding places to walk? I keep finding out-of-the-way places where there’s no other people and them I end up being tense the whole time because I don’t feel safe, and I can’t always find someone to go with me.

          1. Handy Nickname*

            I want to try! I just got her a couple weeks ago after she was flown across the country to a shelter in my state, so I’m giving her time to warm up to me and my place before I start doing new stuff with her, but hopefully she will become a walk-going bunny!

            1. DaffyDuck*

              Check out the bunny obstacle course videos then go shopping for the parts to make one for the new bunny.

              1. OyVey*

                Harness/leash training and bunny agility/jumping are great ways to bond with your new friend! Lots of treats for positive encouragement

        1. Shay the Fae*

          I’m right near a college campus so I walk all over that. I don’t really have good tips for finding good places to walk because I hate busy places but also struggle with empty places.

          1. Handy Nickname*

            College campuses are a good idea! I’m about 60 miles from a metro area with lots of colleges. And I just remembered that the zoo is free and one of my favorite places to visit, so I could go walk there anytime

    2. hermit crab*

      I like to take walks! I like hiking too but in general I think taking walks is an underrated leisure activity. I live near some beautiful neighborhoods with gorgeous houses & gardens, and I like to walk around them and fantasize about which house I would buy if I won the lottery. I also like to walk around while talking on the phone – I call my grandma, my aunt, my dad, whoever and catch up a bit.

      Also, my husband and I like to go to a bar on a Saturday afternoon and do a crossword puzzle together while having a beer. (This can easily be done by yourself as well, but I always bring my husband because I am no good at solving crosswords on my own!)

      1. Handy Nickname*

        I have a friend who lives alone next door to a popular bar, so whenever he’s home at night and feels like doing something or being with people (aka every night he’s home) he walks over and has a beer and shoots the breeze with the employees and other regulars. I really don’t drink (more situational than intentional- don’t love drinking alone and most of my friends don’t), but I’ve always been jealous of home having a Place to just go and be with people whenever he wants to, so maybe I’ll need to start hanging out at bars more.

        1. hermit crab*

          Bars are sort of purpose-built for being that sort of Place (and you can totally hang out at a bar without drinking, or without drinking a lot) but maybe there are other places around where you could do that if you want to take the alcohol out of the equation. For example, a coffee shop in my neighborhood has a collection of board games and there’s often people in there playing Scrabble or whatever.

          1. Handy Nickname*

            That’s a good point. I should spend some time checking out bars and places like that close by to see if there’s one that clicks. I live in a small town with one regular darts & tournaments type of bar, an old-timey restaurant that serves drinks, and a popular restaurant and bar place, but there’s bigger cities about 15 miles in either direction with more options. If nothing else, checking them out will be something to do on those nights at least. Thanks!

          2. TardyTardis*

            Our library has a Board Game Night and Adult Retro Video Games (adults play, not just kids, so no Leisure Suit Larry or Leather Goddesses of Phobos, ‘k?).

          1. Handy Nickname*

            Ha no, a little younger than that, but he definitely has a coveted location among his buddies!

    3. Temperance*

      I play Pokemon Go if it’s not too hot! I also used to chill at our local library, but that’s not great for getting things done, so much.

      1. Handy Nickname*

        I never got into Pokémon go when it came out, so I totally forgot about it, but that’s a great idea! Makes a walk a little more purposeful, or gives me somewhere to drive to.

        1. Red Reader*

          There’s also a similar game with dinosaurs, Jurassic World Alive, if that’s your thing.

      2. Book Lover*

        Me too – I have explored a lot of new areas checking out nests and raids. And right now you can get pikachu with hat and sunglasses and tomorrow squirtle with sunglasses,

      3. Fellow Traveler*

        You can also go geocaching- like Pokemon, but you can find real hidden things. I like it because it is a little more tangible than Pokemon Go.
        Also +1 for the library- I like to go and read all the magazines and newspapers I don’t subscribe to.

    4. En vivo*

      Take a picnic to a park.
      Take long car rides around neighboring cities or towns.
      Walk to library and read a bit.

    5. SemiRetired*

      As has been mentioned, go for a walk. (Set a goal if you like that kind of thing – getting to a specific place, number of steps or distance, find a particular flower, geocaching)
      Library – just to read, or to attend a program
      Senior Center to play cards or attend a program
      Botanic garden
      Bar for trivia night or performer
      Group craft activity (see also Library, Senior Center)
      I also have to wonder – what do you want to get done that involves being away from home? Personally I love a day at home, to putter, read, binge watch, sit on the porch… a day when I can just nap when my cats do is a good day. Perhaps you are suffering from Protestant Work Ethic (or some other cultural origin of a need-to-be-always-doing.) Sometimes I too feel guilty just sitting around – but the sensation passes when I fall asleep with a cat on my lap. So I suggest some reflection – is there anything that needs doing? Maybe you’ll find it’s ok to just… be…

      1. Handy Nickname*

        That’s a fair question! I think it’s less an instilled work-ethic thing (although there definitely was a lot of that in my family growing up like you said, but I’ve gotten much better at enjoying doing nothing since I moved out) and more that I get a little stir-crazy if I’m at home in the same four walls not talking to anyone all day. You know how people talk about walking in circles if they’re home or don’t know what to do/where to start something? I literally Walk. In. Circles. around my apartment if I’m home too long.

        I do enjoy relaxing at home- I try to make sure I’m free at least a couple evenings a week to just hang out and watch tv in the evening, but my problem is that the longer I’m home, the harder time I have getting things done. Like washing dishes or going through my bills or vacuuming. It’s exhausting to wrangle my brain into getting stuff done mode (and then getting distracted 3 minutes in so I have to do it again, and again, and again). Leaving to do something fun, even if it’s just walking around a store, or driving an hour to spend 5 minutes saying hi to a friend who may or may not even be working, gives my brain a break from trying to do things. Like, right now I’m driving, I know where I’m going, I don’t have to make any decisions, and it’s relaxing in that way.

        And the other half of it is just being an incurable extrovert who loves having my own place so I don’t have to share or negotiate anything, but mostly wants to be Anywhere Where There’s People, aka not home.

    6. Merci Dee*

      Yesterday, kiddo and I drove about an hour away to a larger metro area just to shop at different places than what’s available around here. We did lots of window shopping, but only made a purchase at Lush. My daughter loves taking baths with fizzy bath bombs, so those were a treat for her. And then we had a mid-afternoon snack at The Cheesecake Factory; we decided it’s a good thing we don’t have that restaurant in our town because we would eat nothing but luscious cheesecake for the rest of our lives.

      We just enjoy getting out and wandering when we have the chance. It’s fun to see where we end up, and we always have a good time.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      Walk my dog, if it’s nice.

      There’s a great cafe/used bookstore down the street from me so I like to pop in for a latte and a browse. There’s also a great tapas place so I’ll stop by with a book for a gin & tonic and a snack :) Or go to yoga!

    8. Lora*

      Dance! There’s a couple of places in Boston that get an older crowd and have live music. There’s also usually a few west coast swing, jazz and ballroom dance events going on.

      Although I’ve been spending time with friends recently, so we go to their house or they come over.

    9. Competent Commenter*

      I struggle with how to structure my weekend time for a variety of reasons. My free time is so precious yet I find myself frittering away the weekend in unenjoyable ways if I don’t have some kind of plan. I can also get really overwhelmed by all that open time and sort of freeze. I want to do everything and make huge to do lists and then end up feeling bad I can’t do it all.

      What’s been working lately is to approach it like I’m filling a plate with a healthy variety of food, with the different things that are fun, important, necessary for mental and physical health, etc. For me that means each weekend needs some outdoor exercise time like longish walks or strenuous yard work, some time at my personal desk paying bills/answering emails/other paperwork projects, some time on food purchase/plan/prep for the week, some household project like the leaky faucet, some house cleaning, and something totally frivolous like doing a puzzle or playing solitaire on my phone while I listen to podcasts, because I need to let my ADHD mind off leash for a while on a regular basis. As long as I get something from most categories onto my plate each weekend I feel balanced and good on Monday. Hope something in there helps!

    10. Anonymosity*

      I go see a film if there is something on I want to watch. Usually, what happens isn’t “I want to go out,” but after I’ve already been somewhere, it’s “I don’t want to go home.” If I’m out during the day, I’ll go to the flea market and look at stuff. I don’t have to buy anything but it’s kind of fun and it kills time.

    11. LizB*

      Go to the lake, sit on a beach towel on the grass, and read a book
      Try a new coffee shop or lunch spot
      Take a bag of stuff to donate to Goodwill and then browse to see if I want to buy anything there
      Check out one of the free museums in town
      Ride my bike
      If there’s some kind of festival/art show/outdoor event happening, go and people-watch

    12. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      – Decide to find a new wine, go to the liquor store, sample.
      – Get an ice cream cone at a fancy ice cream shop.
      – Window shop on the quaint commercial street, with my dog if she’s allowed.
      – Grocery shopping.
      – Doorknocking for political candidates (not as miserable as you might think!)
      – Many errands related to the dog: get her nails clipped, go to the pet store to buy a toy, go to the fancy pet store to buy her absurdly expensive prescription allergy food, etc.
      – Go to a movie at the $3 movie theater by myself.
      – Go to the bookstore just to browse.
      – Dog park.

  8. dorothy zbornak*

    I am currently reading a book about Chappaquiddick and listening to a podcast about it (Cover-Up by People Magazine actually, which I have mixed feelings about, but still). Has anyone seen the movie? I really want to once I finish the book and also right now my main takeaway is that Ted Kennedy was a giant POS.

    1. Artemesia*

      As a politician he worked very hard to support policies that benefited those less fortunate than he was and was hard working and did a lot of good. He would certainly have made a better president than the last half dozen we have had.

      BUT wow what a POS on that day his only thought was his own skin. He acted like a teenager who has done something awful and now wants to hide it — and he was a grown man at the time. Classic overprivileged rich boy who never had to take responsibility. The accident meant he got caught screwing around with campaign staffers and so his first thought was his reputation rather than the safety of his passenger. Probably she dies anyway — but still a POS. I have always wondered if his reckless behavior which led to this tragedy was partly designed subconsciously to destroy his political career –after all look what presidential ambitions did for all the other men in his family.

      1. dorothy zbornak*

        you make a very interesting point regarding wanting to subconsciously destroy his political career. he made comments about how he was sure “they” were going to kill him and I really don’t think he wanted the expectation hanging over his head.

        1. Cheshire Cat*

          Agreed, I’d never thought about it from that perspective before.

          I loved him for his politics and the way he stood up for those of us who are not independently wealthy, but his personal life was a mess.

    2. The Buddhist Viking*

      Ted Kennedy did act like a total POS. Still, I’ve never thought she was deliberately killed. I think they had an accident with tragic consequences. I even think that he might have tried to help her but been unable. But nothing excuses his not going immediately for authorities/help/anything. In the wake of this accident, his number one priority was covering his own ass. Not okay.

      1. Artemesia*

        Oh of course there is not possibility she was ‘deliberately killed’; her own family never even suggested that in their grief and anger. It was clearly an accident; they took a small road to a beach for a little private roll in the hay and he drove off a bridge in the dark that was easy to drive off of especially if you were a little drunk which he probably was. He was lucky not to die himself and he may well have tried to rescue her as he said he did. The behavior afterwards was grotesque and selfish, but the event was an accident and that it happened during a sexual encounter added to the urge to cover it up.

    3. WellRed*

      I saw it. It was hard to imagine how they were able to take the steps they did in rhe aftermath and get away with it (as viewed through today’s lens).

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are your mixed feelings about the podcast itself or about People? Because I have discovered that I am ridiculously addicted to true crime podcasts and would love a new one to add to my roster.

      1. dorothy zbornak*

        My mixed feelings are about People. I feel like their website/magazine quality has really tanked over the years. I also love true crime podcasts so I definitely recommend it! What other true crime podcasts do you listen to? I have the following that I subscribe to:
        Best Case/Worst Case
        Real Crime Profile
        Someone Knows Something
        True Murder (the host is kind of meh but he usually interviews very interesting and well spoken people).

        Also, Vanity Fair does a podcast called Still Watching and they did episodes about The American Crime Story Versace episodes which were GREAT.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Dirty John was really good, as is Criminal. I liked West Cork a lot– you can find that on Audible or Amazon. I’m currently listening to The Long Dance, which is only OK so far. I also enjoyed Heaven’s Gate.

            It’s not exactly true crime, but if you haven’t listened to S-Town, YOU MUST.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Thinking Sideways is good!

          I also loved the miniseries Slate did about Watergate called Slow Burn.

        2. Dragonista*

          I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, I’ve made a list of favourites which haven’t been mentioned yet, possibly because they are British and therefore less well known in the States:
          All Killa, No Filla
          They Walk Among Us
          Talk Spooky to Me (mixture of true crime and discussion of paranormal with references to films etc)

      2. Fiennes*

        Try “Casefile,” which is excellent. You might also look at “Criminal,” which is a slightly different take. Sometimes it’s straight-up true crime, but other times it’s about analyzing criminal patterns of behavior, or talking to someone who committed a criminal act, or even looking at political movements that broke the law in an attempt to do good.

        1. dorothy zbornak*

          Thanks! Just subscribed to Casefile. I actually have Criminal in my library but I haven’t listened to it yet.

      3. Violet Strange*

        Another vote for Casefile and Criminal. Also check out In Sight and Trace Evidence.

        1. Elzer87*

          Not sure if it was mentioned above, but Generation Whys is great too-I’m a true crime junkie!

        2. Daring Greatly*

          I like My Favorite Murder but I always end up having to take a break. Sometimes they do too much chattering about this and that and I’m just like GET TO THE MURDER ALREADY.

    5. Former Employee*

      Years ago, I read a magazine article that questioned if the accident wasn’t some kind of set up. I do not recall the author’s name, but the premise is that it was strange that Mary Jo Kopechne was riding with Ted Kennedy because she didn’t like him. She was an avid supporter of Bobby Kennedy and had worked on his campaign.

      According to the account in Wikipedia, Mary Jo Kopechne hardly knew Ted Kennedy – no mention that she didn’t like him – yet she left with him, but did not take her purse or hotel room key (they were still at the house where the party had been held). Why would she do that?

      Because things don’t add up, I will always wonder if there was more to this than what we will ever know.

  9. all aboard the anon train*

    So I tried Blue Apron and Hello Fresh recently. I enjoy cooking, but summer is so busy for me and it’s nice to have meals delivered so I don’t have to think about meal planning or grocery shopping aside from supplemental snacks. I’m not in love with BA, but I’ll probably stick with HF and maybe check out Home Chef or some others.

    I’m….not that impressed with the price and quality and type of recipes. They recipes are kind of basic and most of the weekly options are things I’d cook anyway. And the produce is always so sad looking (the lemon they gave me, for instance, was so tiny compared to the ones I get in the store, and the scallions are always so pale).

    But what I’m most shocked by is the portioning. Some of those meals are up to 800 or 1,000 calories per serving! And it’s because they tell you to eat a whole chicken breast when a serving size is 4 ounces (or half the chicken breast). I have a 2 person/3 meals subscription, but I can easily double it and get 12 portions instead of 6 each week. I know this is just because I stick to recommended portion sizes and because I eat periodically throughout the day instead of big meals, but I have to wonder if these companies are trying to get the most for their money by recommending one serving is a full chicken breast.

    Because $60 for a week of lunches and dinners is a much better deal than $60 for a week of dinners only. I also wish there were more vegetarian options rather than one choice a week. Anyone else have similar thoughts? I can see how meal kits work for people who don’t like grocery shopping or meal planning, but for someone who doesn’t mind those things and enjoys cooking, I don’t find it super convenient except during my busy periods.

    1. BRR*

      I feel the same way. I did cooksmarts which is a recipe planning service since I was still going to have to go to the grocery store but eventually discontinued it. I’ve ended up saving my favorite recipes as PDFs and every week just look there for what I want to make and make my list.

    2. OperaArt*

      I like Chef’d because lets you select from hundreds of options whenever you choose to order. Handy for anyone with dietary restrictions. It’s an on demand system rather weekly.
      Same problem with portion sizes. I usually get 3 or 4 servings from the “2 serving” meals.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      They’ve recently started carrying Hello Fresh in my local grocery store. Seems to be part of the store remodel they’re doing. Anyway, they only have a few options, each two-serving meal is about $19.00, and the calories were a bit shocking for the portion size. Even with a $2.00 coupon I didn’t buy a meal, but I could tell when was in the kit and it didn’t seem like enough for two people. I feel like that’s a lot of money for what’s in the kit, and they didn’t seem particularly inspired. They’ve already taken down the signs in one location, which makes me think it’s not selling. The other location still has it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Wanted to add that, in my mind, a whole chicken breast would be a normal serving. But I had weight loss surgery, so four ounces of cooked meat, if I don’t have side dishes, is all I can handle. A whole chicken breast is very normal for my husband, though. We would likely get only the two servings from a kit.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I think portion sizes are totally dependent on individuals. For me, an entire chicken breast plus two sides is way more than I can eat in one sitting – and way more than I really need to eat. But I know it’s just the right amount for other people.

          It baffles me, though, that BA or HF say one full chicken breast is one serving, but then the packages of meat they send say one chicken breast is two servings. It’s the mismatch of info that is making me question their intention? Purpose? Audience? IDK, it just jumped out at me as bizarre that so many of these meal kits market themselves as healthy, but their calorie count per meal is huge.

          1. Artemesia*

            There is also some confusion on what a chicken breast is. I think butchers refer to the whole breast as one breast — that is two sides thus generally two servings.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Good point. If we’re talking a whole breast as in both sides of the breast, yeah that’s way too much for most people, even my husband. But he easily will eat a half, which is usually about 7 ounces of cooked meat.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        I can’t with the portion sizes on any of the meal prep services. My husband and I both lift weights, and he would mow down the portions “for two” and still want more before I even got any.

        Also, even if the portions were generous, Hello Fresh in particular would never, ever get my business. They do so much aggressive sidewalk marketing in NYC. When I worked near a large subway station and tourist trap, I couldn’t leave the office to get lunch or get on the subway to go home without being accosted by one of their employees trying to get me to sign up.

    4. Sunny Day in the ADK*

      I mostly agree with you.
      My sister is a big advocate for it, but I didn’t think it was worth the cost. She gave me a coupon for a free week and I did enjoy the meals, but not enough to spend $60 a week on it. But I live right next door to a grocery store, which makes it easy.
      This does remind me that she sent me a new coupon for a free week of Plated, so I’ll try that.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m always kind of fascinated on the Fivethirtyeight podcast for what new twist this week’s sponsor will have on “Do you like X but hate having to go to the store to shop for X? X dot com will deliver great quality X to your house, freeing you from this onus.”

    6. Competent Commenter*

      This kind of reinforces what I’d assumed about these services. My method is having easy to make meals that I can lean on when it’s busy, favoring long shelf life and freezer so it’s handy when needed.

      My choices are kind of meat oriented (lapsed long time vegetarian with a picky family of four now) but here are a few examples: broiled tilapia/rice/bagged salad; make a ton of turkey meatballs or veggie stuffed pasta shells and flash freeze them, then cook in or with a pot of purchased marinara sauce and serve with a veg; Costco sells a good chicken tikka masala with a long fridge shelf life, also their rotisserie chickens are good for multiple meals and I make broth from the carcass; and we like the Trader Joe’s frozen orange chicken. Folks may have multiple kinds of objections to many of these but as things to rotate in on particularly busy days they seem like even less work than the delivery services to me, and one can adapt these examples to free-range, vegetarian, low sodium, etc.

    7. Loopy*

      I had HelloFresh and loved it because not only am I bad at cooking, I dislike meal planning AND prep. It was perfect someone like me who hates the whole process and HF minimizes it.

      Also, left to my won devices all my meals are rather sad and extremely lackluster from disinterest. HelloFresh actually bumped them up.

      To chime in on serving sizes, I think it varies, if I make a HF meal with my fiance who runs around at work all day and then eats dinner as his biggest meal, it’s juuuust enough for two people and sometimes he still wants more food, depending on the meal. On my own, I can always divide the two servings into three.

      I was getting it once or twice a month and then discontinued it to save money but I miss it. I have all the meal cards but even just picking them out and gathering the ingredients is more than I usually want to do and I rarely use them :X

    8. ronda*

      i havent tried it but I do think that these kits are for folks who don’t really want to cook that much. So simple and fast recipes it what they would go for.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I wouldn’t call any of them particularly fast tbh. What they market as a 30 minute meal still has about 10 – 20 minutes of prep and if you’re not great at multitasking when cooking, it takes double the time.

        1. Loopy*

          +1 esp. for those who don’t do things like chop/dice often. It takes me 45-60 minutes every time.

        2. Roja*

          My mom tried one of them, can’t remember which, and that’s what she said as well. A bit fussy and 45-60 minutes total, which is a lot (and more than either of us usually spend making meals) when you just got off work and are hungry for dinner.

        3. SS Express*

          Agree. My husband and I tried one of these services earlier this year and were not impressed. We typically favour quick and easy dinners during the week and the meals we got took so much longer than our usual ones! We often buy washed chopped veggies, meat that’s already been deboned or cubed, etc. The extra time washing and peeling and chopping soooo many ingredients then washing up the numerous bowls and pans was so much more work than doing a weekly supermarket run. The meals we got were very tasty, but not worth spending close to an hour in the kitchen on a work night when we could typically have a quite tasty meal ready in 20 minutes.

          1. SS Express*

            And yes they were twice the price of the meals we would normally cook – and we’re not particularly thrifty cooks! For the time and money involved I could make something much better from scratch.

    9. FD*

      I can’t get over the prices, honestly. I budget $25/week for groceries, and that’s for all meals, all week. Meal prep on Sundays and then just reheat through the week.

      I can see the appeal for people who can afford it and have very little time, I suppose.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Wow, $25/week is impressive! I don’t think I could do that, but I live in a HCOL area and $25 at even the cheapest store wouldn’t get me a full week of meals. I’m usually at $60ish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. But I also have a lot of staples in my pantry that I don’t need to buy each week and will buy meat in bulk to freeze when I have a car available to go to Costco.

        1. FD*

          Yeah, groceries are pretty cheap in my area (Minnesota). I know I do better than a lot of my peers, but a lot of them buy pre-packaged which increases the price. I have the advantage that I really don’t get bored with eating the same thing every day.

          Now that you mention it, I suppose those services may be, relatively, more affordable for folks in HCOL areas.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            Yeah, if I can get 6 days of lunches AND dinners from a meal kit for $60, that’s in line with what I’d be paying at the store anyway. But $60 for just six meals is super expensive even for my budget.

    10. Anonymosity*

      Holy crap, that’s a lot of money.
      I’d rather just have a personal chef. I don’t like having to spend time cooking anything if I’m busy. Hahaha maybe someday.

    11. MsChandandlerBong*

      We got a free week of Blue Apron from a friend. I am glad it was free–I would have been mad if I paid for it. I found it to be a total waste of money. The portions are small, the price is outrageous, and the amount of packaging they use is terrible for the environment.

    12. Alice*

      Among my friends, the people who like it
      – don’t know how to cook
      – don’t have a well-stocked pantry
      – want to teach their kids to cook
      – have lots of money
      If all those things are true for you, I’m sure you’ll love it!

    13. nonegiven*

      If there is too much, set some aside for lunch tomorrow. IDK, usually recipes and nutrition labels tell me way less than I’ll need to eat for protein.

    14. AnonAtAllTimes*

      Why cook much at all? I seldom do. A typical meal for me is something like Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, a salad of shrimp and baby spinach and tomatoes lightly dressed, tuna on whole wheat bread with tomato, regular plain oatmeal (which you can microwave), cottage cheese out of the tub, and raw fruit and vegetables (washed, of course), stuff like that. Minimal if any prep, minimal cleanup, quick, nutritious, delicious. Once in a while I’ll make pasta (I make the sauce in big batches and freeze it, use it as needed). I don’t understand why people feel they have to do a lot of cooking. I guess they just like doing it. I don’t, but I do like to be well nourished. And I am. With almost zero cooking. And at a great savings of time and money. Also, no leftovers. And I almost NEVER throw food out, because I buy what I know I’ll consume, and then I consume it. These meal services seem like a waste of money to me.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I like cooking. I like the meals I make from cooking. I like being well-nourished from cooking. That’s why I do it. There’s nothing wrong with it.

    15. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      We have had Plated for about a year and really like it – I think they have a good variety, especially ethnic cuisines that some people might not be exposed to otherwise. I agree that the portions are huge, but I just eat half and bring the other half for lunch later in the week.

    16. Borgette*

      I’ve been trying meal kit services recently and have been pretty happy with them – at the promotional price. So far my partner and I have tried Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Plated. We thought that the Blue Apron box had smaller servings, and it doesn’t group the ingredients like the other two, so it’s a little less convenient. I do like using their online recipes when I do regular meal planning. Hello Fresh and Plated feel comparable for us. (Plated has more options, but Hello Fresh has enough variety for us.) I think Hello Fresh’s regular pricing is slightly better than Plated’s.

      I recently made a long-distance move for a new job, and between longer hours, a longer commute, and looking for a new place I have a lot less time and a little more money. Like 2-3 hours less per day less. It’s been a rough transition, and the meal kits have reduced stress in the household. Before, I was the primary meal planner and shopper and I just don’t have time to handle it right now, and my partner struggles with meal planning and sticking to a grocery budget. If I need to work late, the printouts have all the information my partner needs to start dinner. Once things settle down, we’ll probably go back to shopping normally, but for now it’s helpful.

  10. matcha123*

    I’ve gotten some great advice from posters about dating. I haven’t had much success, so I’m taking a bit of a break.
    I am more comfortable talking with strange guys and have some topics I can turn to. But, I don’t feel comfortable talking about marriage and I don’t feel comfortable with being touched early on. I can’t picture myself with a forever partner, even though I think I would like one.
    I feel confident that this is a ‘red flag’ for a lot of men…they probably expect that if I were interested in them, I’d try to ask about kids or family stuff…or that I’d be happy to let them break the ‘touch barrier.’
    Do ‘normal’ people feel comfortable with total strangers coming in to kiss them or touch them on their first meeting? If so, why? Are there really many women that feel that a guy isn’t interested if he’s not trying to touch them on the first date? Do I really need to feel comfortable exchanging sexual messages with men in order to be a successful dater?

    I am not a sexual person, especially with strangers and I feel like this, too is kind of holding me back… Aside from just waiting to see what kinds of guys I meet, should I completely rethink things?

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I really hate being touched, especially intimately, by people I don’t know well. I’m bi with some pretty strong leanings towards demisexual, so I generally need to form an emotional connection before I can relax enough to feel physically comfortable with someone sexually. Sometimes the emotional connection is quick and sometimes it takes awhile.

      When I’ve dated men, I’ve never really felt that a guy wasn’t interested if he wasn’t trying to touch me on a first date. There were a couple I know who were put off by my lack of touch during the first date or who definitely picked up on my uneasiness, but tbh I wouldn’t want to be with someone who got prickly because I didn’t like that they started touching or kissing me when I wasn’t comfortable with it. A lot of them were fine and we went on several dates before we kissed or touched or exchanged sexual messages.

      I don’t think I ever talked about kids or marriage until we got past three or four dates. But for me, talking about it on a first date is a red flag that they’re only looking for a wife and bearer of their child. I know it’s important, but I want to figure out if we’re emotionally compatible before jumping into those issues, you know?

      TL;DR: I wouldn’t worry about it. There will be some men who will be put off by it, some who won’t care, and some who will feel the same as you do! Honestly, my advice is to figure out what makes you comfortable, not what makes a stranger you’re meeting for the first time comfortable. You’ll feel more confident dating if you know what you want and what your limits are. This is something you shouldn’t need to change, and a good person will compromise with you and try to understand where you’re coming from.

      1. matcha123*

        I think I need that emotional connection to feel safe? opening up more to a potential boyfriend and then talking about those other big issues. Honestly, the idea of marriage or committing to one person forever scares me. I don’t feel comfortable talking about that with a new potential partner because it’s something so different from what most people are.
        I’ve been on over 10 first-dates in the past 3 months and I’ve had a number of incidents that made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything. I don’t know how to explain it, but when I’m sitting there and this guy who I’ve chatted with in the week or two leading up to the date keeps touching me, I’m thinking “What does he want me to do?”

      2. foolofgrace*

        I think it’s valuable to talk about Non-Negotiables early on. If a man wants children and you absolutely don’t, it’s important to get that distinction out in the open earlier rather than later. Otherwise, why spend time together if you’ve got vastly different agendas? If you’re incompatible in certain areas, you can both move on to find someone you can be compatible with.

        1. matcha123*

          How do you talk about that? I don’t feel comfortable talking about marriage or anything like that on a first date. I am living overseas and guys ask how long I’m going to stay. I don’t know. It depends on so many things. I’m not going to stay here in hopes of getting a man and decline good jobs. Would I stay longer for someone I really liked? Most likely.
          Do I want kids? No. Is it written in stone? No.
          I really don’t have any set in stone life goals. I’d prefer to move home as soon as I find a good job, but if I have a partner, that’s something I’d like to talk with them about. And I might voluntarily pass on jobs back home if I’m happy with my life with that guy. There are so many variables that I don’t think it’s easy for me to talk about them or bring them up.

          1. foolofgrace*

            I agree that first date would be awkward to talk about kids or marriage (though I like the third date suggestion) but there could be other issues, like you might have your heart set on someone who is a college graduate or who has a dependable job. It sounds shallow, sort of, but if it’s important to you, it’s important to take it into consideration.

            I got this from a class I took once on “How To Be Single.” It was actually quite valuable though I felt kind of weird signing up for it.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          I consider three dates in early on, though. That’s when I usually bring it up or the other person does. All my first dates were pretty casual quick things to see if there was anything there worth pursuing and the times where people did bring up non-negotiables on the first date it felt like a job interview and was pretty awkward.

          I don’t think waiting until a third date is that bad, to be honest. If you’re waiting until six months in, that’a different issue.

    2. chickaletta*

      There are so many different kinds of people out there that you will find a guy that has the same approach to dating/touching/sex as you do. You just have to honest about it from the beginning to weed out the ones who want something different so you’re not wasting your time on them.

      What is attractive no matter what is confidence. As long as you know yourself and you know what you want and you’re ok letting other people know that, that’s what’s attractive! :) You seem to think that you’re not dating the right way or that nobody is going to want what you want. Honey, you’re fine! You are doing it right! I think you do know yourself and you do know what you want. No, go out there and get it! And have fun!

      Oh, I’ll answer your other questions (as a dating woman myself): I do like physical contact. So, if a guy holds back physically I probably won’t stay with him for long. Not because I think he doesn’t like me – (although I admit, that would definitely cross my mind – dating is such an emotional roller coaster) – but because I know that we wouldn’t be sexually compatible in the long run.

      1. matcha123*

        Honest from the beginning means like what you first chat through an app or when you first meet up? These days, people are pretty fine with touching or casual sex. I’m not really down for that, but there have been the rare guy that I feel totally comfortable with and I don’t mind a hug from guy A on the first meeting, but I feel uncomfortable with the same from guy B.
        I do like physical contact. I like to hug and hold hands and such and so on, but of the men I’ve had dates with over the past year and a half, really only 1 was someone I felt comfortable doing that with early on.
        How long would you give a guy if you guys got along well? Since you like touch yourself, I’m guessing that you reach out to touch him early on as well?

        I should add that even with a lot of close friends, I kind of jump or stiffen when they reach out to touch me. I had a bad incident as a kid where I was accused of inappropriately touching a classmate (I grabbed his shoulders) by the classmate (the teachers decided it was fine) and since then I’ve been very careful not to touch or be touched by anyone. I’ve only realized that my touch aversion links back to that and I’m trying to overcome that, but it’s very hard.

        1. chickaletta*

          Through chat or on the first meeting, either is fine. I did online dating last year and learned that being honest (without seeming like you’ve got baggage to unload) is a good idea. Something like “I’m looking for a relationship that develops over time. Let’s meet for a chat over coffee to get to know each other a little bit and see if there’s a connection, maybe it will lead to a second date!” can signal that you want to start off slow but still sounds positive.

          On the date itself, you can straight out say that you don’t want to hold hands yet or whatever, if you’re comfortable saying that, or you can show it in a round about way. Example: date’s going well, guy asks if you want to see him again. Say “yes! I’d really like to. I save my hugs and kisses for later dates anyway”. WINK WINK :) And if the dude doesn’t get the hint and watch his distance, repeat that you would like to see him again but that you prefer to save hugs/kisses until you get to know him better. If he still pushes the physical contact at that point then he’s probably not a good person to date anyway. Anyone who makes you feel uncomforatable or tells you you’re not normal is a jerk.

          How long would you give a guy if you guys got along well? Since you like touch yourself, I’m guessing that you reach out to touch him early on as well?
          If the date is going well, I’ll kiss him at the end of the night. I’ve never ended a date with a kiss if I knew I didn’t want to go out with him again. Sex I save for a few dates in. I don’t know if it’s really that common to have sex on the first date, I think it’s hype, but maybe it depends on the generation? I’m a Gen Xer, so I can’t speak for today’s twenty-somethings.
          Again, everyone has their own level of comfort as you’ll see from all the replies on this thread. Do what’s comfortable for you.

    3. En vivo*

      I’m ‘normal’ ;) and I wouldn’t allow a stranger to kiss me. My husband and I even waited until our wedding night to be sexually active. And no, we’re not a 100 years old :D. We dated for about two years and have been married for almost 4 years. It’s what we both wanted and decided to do. My suggestion is to stick to who you are, and the right-for-you guy will respect it and perhaps want the same.

      1. matcha123*

        Maybe because I’m in my 30s, the guys I’ve met have felt like it should be easier to escalate things. I’m open about my lack of experience in the dating world and I’ve tried the first-date kissing, but felt no spark. More annoyance. Glad to hear that I’m not totally alone!

        1. Jessica*

          What’s your religious background? I don’t think I’ve ever kissed anyone on a first date, and my husband and I waited until marriage to have sex…but I think all the men who pursued me romantically were pretty aware of my religious convictions and had an idea that I wasn’t going to be interested in a lot of physical contact right away. If I was meeting people through tinder or something it might have gone differently ;)

          1. matcha123*

            I went to church as a kid, but I’m not religious myself. I did have a strict upbringing, but it was more about not becoming a statistic. Religion doesn’t play a part in my approach to dating, though. I almost feel that being religious would make things easier because I’d have a community I could tap into.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Just want to say upfront that I’m married, so not dating. In general, I wouldn’t like being kissed or touched at a first meeting. Handshake would be fine, but anything more is too familiar for me. I think if I WERE dating, I’d feel the same way.

      1. matcha123*

        I did have a guy imply that I was weird for not being open to his touches and he asked if I were not actually gay or asexual. Was annoyed and amused that not immediately jumping to sex (which was what he wanted) with a stranger (when that was never mentioned as a possibility before we met in real life) meant that I was gay… *rolleyes*

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I really think everyone has different feelings on this and the key is to communicate. I tend to open up quickly. When I met my husband, we made out on our first date, and it was lovely. But if either one of us hadn’t been “into it,” we wouldn’t have done it. People are always going to have different feelings about things like this. I really don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way, just a right for you way.

      1. matcha123*

        Is this something I should be bringing up? I feel like the men should be able to ask, too if X, Y, and Z are important to them. I have a very difficult time knowing what I want or should want. Which means I can’t communicate something I have no idea about.

    6. LilySparrow*

      It’s been a while since I dated, but I am a relatively touchy person. I’m comfortable with a pat on the arm or shoulder if I’m having a great conversation with a new person, date or not. I’m happy to be hugged (briefly) by nearly anyone who doesn’t actively give me the creeps.

      But I would only be okay with a more flirty touch – say, the knee or the small of the back – if I really, really clicked with a first date and had great chemistry. That might be too forward in some situations. If I felt a guy was pushing the pace or just generally too handsy, that’s a huge turnoff. On the other hand, I had some first dates that were pretty hands-off and developed into nice situations where we saw each other for a while or eventually got serious.

      If a guy can’t adjust to your cues & timing on things like when touching is okay, that’s a good and very clear sign that he’s not tuned in to your frequency properly. And if he’s not picking up your cues about touching your knee over coffee, he’s not going to understand your responses and preferences when it comes to kissing or anything more, either.

      A guy who makes you feel uncomfortable or defensive on a first date isn’t going to make a good partner. I field-tested this theory multiple times and assure you, it is a reliable data point.

      I didn’t always kiss on the first date, either. Including with my now-husband of 15 years. (FWIW, we didn’t meet till I was 32)

      From what I hear, I would probably hate contemporary online dating culture. I tried online dating a bit in the “old days” and didn’t love it.

      I did sometimes shut down overly steamy messages or phone calls. Because, dude, I don’t know you! And to me, stock “sexy” lines just sound ridiculous. Intimacy is, by definition, personal. Not generic.

      You don’t need to have some kind of big talk or disclaimer up front. Just respond authentically in the moment. If a guy wants to talk long-term plans or marriage on first meeting, say something like, “I don’t know, I don’t have a specific agenda.” Or, “Wow, that seems a bit premature, don’t you think?” Or “I think it’s too early to tell.” Or say, “I’m not philosophically opposed to marriage, but I’m not interested in getting married just to check the box.”

      If he’s too touchy too fast, scoot back and say something like, “what’s the rush,” or “dude, chill,” or “eh, we’re not there yet,” or just nonverbally show that it’s too much.

      The whole point of dating is to find the few or one person who is compatable with you, out of all the potential partners in the world. So just be open about your feelings & responses in the moment. Yes, a lot of guys will discover they are not compatible with you. That’s good! It doesn’t sound like you want a couple dozen boyfriends at the same time. So you’re weeding out the “no’s”.

      You sound to me like a totally normal person who just prefers getting to know people slowly in real life instead of hooking up with strangers.

      That’s totally valid, and there are lots of people exactly like you. But you’ll probably have to meet them out in the world doing other things, because online dating is a marketplace. That means it’s disproportionately slanted toward people who are actively looking to “close the deal” quickly, whether that means hooking up or getting married.

      If you’re not involved in many social groups outside work, maybe an activity-based Meetup that isn’t focused on dating (Sports? Hobbies? Fandom? Spirituality? Volunteering? Art?) might be a better way for you to meet people without pressure and get to know them better outside a dating scenario.

      1. matcha123*

        This is great advice, thank you! I’ve been thinking more about activities these days. There isn’t much I’m super passionate about anymore, and when I have done group stuff, I don’t try to engage with members. If I go to an exercise event, I’m there to work out and go home and get annoyed when people try to socialize with me. I guess I should be more open to chatting with people during or after activities.
        The overwhelming consensus is that I need to speak up more. I am so afraid of negative reactions that I really have my guard up. I’ll have to try the next time I meet someone!

        1. LilySparrow*

          I’m glad it was helpful. Remember, you’re not there to just get them to like you. You’re finding out if you like them.

          As I saw in a Facebook meme the other day, “You’re not the free salsa. You’re the guac.”

        2. Minocho*

          “I am so afraid of negative reactions that I really have my guard up.”

          Maybe trying to take on the software development philosophy of “fail fast” will help with this – if you’re in a dating situation, failing fast is an advantage – you’re not wasting either person’s time, you’re not forming an emotional attachment before you discuss something that is a deal breaker for a long term relationship. That way the negative reaction is actually a positive – you found the information you needed early.

          My problem is I’m willing to be very honest and open about things, and I approach dating as a way to find out if a long term relationship might be possible with the guy I’m going out with. Thus far, guys seem to interpret my openness to honestly answering questions about myself, my history and my goals to be instantly open to other things – even though one of the things I’m very honest and up front about is I require an emotional connection to get much of anywhere physically.

          ::shrug:: It feels frustrating to be clearly communicating, and being told that I am heard and understood, and yet have the guy clearly communicating his interests and the fact that he’s not *really* hearing me. But…then…at least it failed quickly, right?

  11. Shay the Fae*

    A bad thing happened. And I don’t know what I need to heal from it.
    I live in a neighborhood where there is a lot of tension, mostly between the white college students and the black, poor, families who lives around the college. I’m one of the college students. I’ve been here for a little over a year now.
    There was a group of kids I’ve been rather friendly toward. They’re all afraid of dogs to one extent or another and many have been bitten in the past. But they like my dogs. And they had a lot of questions for me. And they like to say hi.
    It’s rather a lot for me, I’m a bit of a socially anxious recluse and I have a hard time understanding them. And the way they communicate excitement and interest is to be loud.
    Over the summer, the pool across the street opens and the number of the children in the area triples.
    Anyway, a few days ago I was taking one of the dogs out for an evening “jog”. There were about 12 kids hanging out inside my apartment’s fenced front yard. They were climbing on the fence, swinging using the gate, and climbing on the front step’s hand rail. There was even a kid on a bike. It was a lot.
    I was able to get past them with my dog without to much issue.
    Coming back inside was another issue.
    When the gets on the gate saw me they screamed and one ran. And that panic just spread. I ignored it best I could and navigated toward my front door. As I was unlocking it someone threw a football at the back of my head and other kids threw plastic bottles and sticks at me (or maybe my dog?). The football was the only thing that hit me.
    When I got inside, I tried to close the door but three kids leaned against me and stood in the door jam to stop me.
    They were yelling and I don’t know what about.
    The kid threw the football again. It hit the door jam and the kids keeping me from closing the door jumped back so as not to get hit by the football bouncing off the jam.
    I closed and locked the door. And immediately they started pounding on it.
    No one can hear when you knock on the front door so I just went into my apartment and cried.
    The one positive thing is, I guess, that my dog did an amazing job of just sitting next to me (like I trained him to do) and not getting worked up by the commotion. I’ve been working very hard to train him.
    But yeah.
    I didn’t want to call the police on these kids because I don’t have faith the police will handle it appropriately. And I couldn’t fight back or anything, they’re kids (ages 5-12). I’ve talked to my family and went to counseling yesterday. I just still feel shaken up and devastated and hopeless.
    I’ve done my best to be a nice, friendly neighbor. But this just really shows that I will never be apart of this community.

    1. Mananana*

      Oh, my goodness. Just reading this made me feel anxious for you. I am SO sorry this happened to you — this was not cool. At all. You didn’t ask for advice, so I’ll not offer any. Just prayers that things get better for you.

      1. Shay the Fae*

        I did email a professor who lives in the area and he’s trying to find the right community leader for my specific area to talk to. And I’m not really sure what the meeting will accomplish, but I haven’t been able to tell these kids to leave me alone effectively so maybe that?
        Yeah, I think all I need right now are prayers and internet hugs.
        I think reaching out to try to find a community leader was the only right thing to do.
        It’s just hard.

        1. Artemesia*

          This seems really smart to me. I hope there are community leaders who can intervene and perhaps set something up with you and the kids parents. And kudos for not calling the police in a situation the police ought to be able to defuse — but we all know that is so often not what happens and what a risk it is to minority kids.

          1. Shay the Fae*

            Thanks. I don’t want to be all like “I should get cookies for not calling the cops!” but having it affirmed that this was the right choice helps to calm the angry, vindictive side of me that doesn’t want them to “get away” with it. And I hate that I have that part of me in the first place. And then I think that I probably shouldn’t hate that part because what good does hate do for me in the first place?

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Some advice I read from a teacher that might cross over here–if there’s any way to make the first contact a positive one, parents tend to react better when you later say “Darren did something bad that you should talk to him about.” Like “Boy we both know Darren is a great kid with lots of energy who is usually so nice to my dog, so I couldn’t believe it when he threw a plastic bottle at Spot.”

              1. Anonymosity*

                Yeah, given the ages of the kids, I think doing something like this with the community leader is the best approach.

        2. nep*

          Good idea, reaching out like that.
          Big hug and may your efforts pay off in peace and a sense of security in your own home.

        3. neverjaunty*

          That is actually an excellent choice. You were right that calling the police may have resulted in a huge overreaction, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with these kids being little assholes.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Strong prayers and reassuring hugs, if you want them.

          I love how the prof is helping you. Is there a nearby church that is pretty active? Perhaps a popular minister/other professional?

          I think what your prof is looking for is a community leader who is in good with these kids. This leader would say, “hey, com’on, let’s leave Shay alone…” and be effective in saying that.

          If it comes about that you are able to meet with a few of the kids in a neutral environment, be sure to learn their names. Write the names down after the meeting to be sure you remember, if need be. Knowing people’s names can change everything.

        5. Jessica*

          I think reaching out to a community leader was a great idea! Especially because you couldn’t quite make out what the kids were yelling about. Maybe the kids standing in your doorway were trying to apologize for the actions of the others. (I mean, that’s super unlikely I know…but it would be good if an adult could talk to them and ask “what were you guys thinking?” and seeing if they were just being jerks or what was going on.)

    2. matcha123*

      I don’t know if this will give you perspective or not, but, I grew up in low-income Section 8 housing. There were some kids who were always just trying to do weird stuff. I don’t think they were trying to be malicious about it. But I think it was a mix of wanting to mess with someone (usually an adult) and wanting to get some kind of attention.

      I remember one time waiting at the bus stop by my house, seeing kids from my neighborhood pushing each other in shopping carts…slowly…in the middle of the street. They knew that the drivers would be punished for hitting them, and they knew they were being a nuisance.

      I don’t think it’s really about you and more about the kids being obnoxious and probably wanting attention. If it happens again, turn to them and calmly say, “Throwing things at people is not right, if you keep it up, I will speak with your parents.” And if they do keep it up, go knock on their parents’ doors. Even if you don’t know who the parents are, if there’s a house that seems like it’s one where they are congregating around, go to that one. I’d say escalating to the police is a lot. And I am not condoning what they are doing. It was incredibly mean and stupid. But, I am pretty sure that if it were a suburban cul-de-sac, the first step would be parents and second would be police.

      1. Shay the Fae*

        That’s basically what my sister said. She’s a nursing student and she’s told all the time that when patients are mean to you it doesn’t have anything to do with you. They’re being mean because they’re in pain or dying of cancer or something. And, that doesn’t make it okay, but that’s a pretty good reason to be a jerk.
        And I think being a kid, living in this neighborhood, not having your parents around (there is seriously about 0 adult supervision here) probably knowing someone you love who’s dead or in jail, that’s a pretty good reason to be pissed off at the world. (I hope none of this sounds racist? I have an EMT friend who teaches kids to use Narcan because it’s a real problem here. And, same thing, a class I went to was taught by two police officers and they told me a lot of things about were I live.)
        And then kids have little emotional regulation.
        I think I do know of a house I could go to. (But eek! Talking to people! And people I don’t know all that well!)

        1. matcha123*

          It doesn’t sound racist. The kids in my shopping cart example were white and minority. It’s something that you often find in low-income housing.
          It’s hard. They know where you live, and I think it’s fair that you ask if they live on the block and where their parents are. I think you said you were getting in touch with a community outreach person? Might I recommend having an officer visit as part of community outreach? In my neighborhood the local police department came with a few officers, cake, activities and held a summer afternoon program. People who didn’t know each other were able to meet, we met the local officers, etc. That might be a way to get them to have a fun focused activity and realize that they need to be responsible.
          However, that’s not your job! It’s a nice thought, but, the kids were wrong for acting out and their parents should have been on that.

    3. Myrin*

      Oh my, I’m so sorry – even if they were just kids, that sounds really scary!

      Just so that I know I’m following the story correctly: there were kids there who aren’t the ones who are interested in and asked questions about your dogs before, right? And then those kids became scared of the dog when they saw you two and started attacking you? I’d be really shaken by that, too, and again, so sorry you experienced this. :(

      1. Shay the Fae*

        It was either all new kids coming to the area for the summer programs at the rec center, or a mix of some kids I knew and some new ones. I wasn’t paying too much attention to see if I recognized anyone.
        Thanks for your empathy(sympathy?). The support really does help.

        1. LizB*

          If you think the new kids are in programming at the rec center, maybe it would be worth chatting with the staff/director of the rec center? Not with the aim of getting anyone in trouble, but maybe they can re-set expectations with their participants about how they act in the neighborhood, or even work some themes of community service or being around animals into their program.

    4. nep*

      That sounds horrifying–I’m so sorry this happened to you. Glad you were able to get in and lock the door, and that the dog behaved so well and according to his training.
      I don’t have any advice–just commiseration from a fellow socially anxious recluse. I salute you for your bravery and for working on engaging.
      I’ll be interested to read responses here. And please keep us posted.

    5. Massmatt*

      Sorry you have such terrible neighbors. These kids are bullying you to an incredible degree and I doubt it will stop unless you stand up for yourself. They are throwing things at you, keeping you from closing your door, and pounding on your door. This is crazy and obnoxious behavior, to put it mildly. It seems like you are… trying to ignore it, for fear of being deemed racist? It’s not racist to defend your boundaries.

      I’m skeptical that going to the parents will result in change, if they were good parents their kids would not be throwing things at you and pounding on your door. They are more likely to respond with anger or denial, or indifference.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        Not to derail here, or get into a sociological discussion, but I have to take issue with your “if they were good parents” comment. Twelve-year-olds are fully capable of acting in ways their parents would not approve of, and the younger kids followed along.

        One of my friends growing up had two brothers who frequently got into trouble (bordering on juvenile delinquency) from the time the the older one was 11 or 12, in spite of their parents. And this was in a middle-class area; lots of neighborhood parents blamed my friend’s parents, but nothing they did changed the brothers’ behaviour. By the time we were all in our 20s, though, they had become responsible adults and even went into business together (the business is still open, 30 years later)

        Plus, parents in poor neighborhoods have other stressors as well– such as having to work 2 or 3 jobs with low access to quality childcare. The parents may very well be trying to raise their children well.

      2. LCL*

        Call someone at the rec center and mention what happened. And call the police if they do that blocking the door jamb and leaning on you crap again. Once someone touches you it’s gone beyond youthful hijinks and they have forfeited any right to neighborly courtesy.

        1. Thursday Next*

          I think talking to someone at the rec center could be a good idea. I wonder if I might be possible for you to visit with your dog, and be introduced? Or if this would be a good idea?

          I disagree that children this age (some of them were as young as 5!) can forfeit the right to *adult* courtesy. Calling the police would be a hugely disproportionate response.

          Shay, this sounds terrifying, and I’m impressed that you reached out to your professor, and hope you’ll get some helpful resources that way.

          1. LCL*

            It’s not the climbing on stuff and yelling, or even the chasing. Kids do that. Nobody would call the cops about that. It’s the blocking the path and deliberately throwing something at somebody’s head. I’m sure most of the kids are fine. In the event described, I wouldn’t have called the cops, because OP didn’t know who threw the football. But yeah, I’m confident saying the kid who threw the football is close to damned already, and probably won’t grow up to be a decent person. And if he or she does it again, call 911.

            1. TL -*

              Oh, wow that is horribly judgmental and not at all realistic about what kids are like. Some kids are little sh!ts and do things like throw things at people – kids, even 12 year olds, aren’t really great at putting consequences to actions. They’re not great at conceptualizing what could happen if they throw too hard or putting together intentional head hit with head injury.

              They learn by having consequences enforced and by growing older and being able to put cause and effect together. But that kid is not “close to dammed” and, actually, they probably will grow up to be a decent person.

              Shay, if you have an ‘adult voice’ and can firmly say, “Excuse me, guys, but I need to get home. Please stop.” that’s generally effective with kids in this age range. You have to say it with conviction, like you absolutely a) know that they know they’re being out of line and b) that they will stop when you ask. Practice in front of a mirror if it helps.

            2. LilySparrow*

              Geez, it was a football, not a cinder block. Kids throw footballs at each other all the time – they exist for the purpose of being thrown at people.

              They were being awful little jerks, not perpetrating a violent crime spree.

      3. Jessica*

        It’s been one incident — up until now the interactions have been positive. And race only comes up because historically, a white person calling the police on minority children can have deadly or lifelong consequences, and it’s too risky to escalate the situation like that.

        1. WellRed*

          Agreed! I am guessing this might not have happened if it were the same group she’s already interacted with. Throw in some new ones and its bound to go sideways (though I am shocked by the door blocking, in particular).

    6. Cheshire Cat*

      So sorry you had to go through this! Talking to a community representative sounds like a good idea.

    7. Rick Tq*

      Call 911 if it happens again because if you get caught by the mob you may not survive. That was a gang assault and the lot of them should at least get a warning from an officer.

      I also strongly, strongly suggest moving to a safer neighborhood. Life just gave you a warning.

      1. Shay the Fae*

        I would if that was an option.
        I literally had a heroin house next door for most of last year. (That’s what the police I know called it.) And one of the guys that hangs out there threatened to shoot my dog. (This is what triggered my landlord installing the fence in the first place.)
        These are children, mostly on the younger side. I think there was like, one 12 year old who was maybe suppose to supervise?
        I’m not sure if you mean mob as in like The Mob, which would be something I object to, or mob mentality, which surely played a part.
        I don’t think any of the kids will pull a knife or gun on me. I’m worried if I handle this wrong a parent or older sibling might though.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Whhaaaa?? Now this seems kind racist, she said they were loud kids, not an angry gang mob.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Shae wrote … And that panic just spread. I ignored it best I could and navigated toward my front door. As I was unlocking it someone threw a football at the back of my head and other kids threw plastic bottles and sticks at me (or maybe my dog?). The football was the only thing that hit me. When I got inside, I tried to close the door but three kids leaned against me and stood in the door jam to stop me. They were yelling and I don’t know what about. The kid threw the football again. It hit the door jam and the kids keeping me from closing the door jumped back so as not to get hit by the football bouncing off the jam. I closed and locked the door. And immediately they started pounding on it.

          Sounds like an angry mob to me. We don’t know how many of the 12 were younger and just following along vs. older and more aware but a football to the face will hurt no matter what age person threw it.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I don’t blame her for panicking but it sounds to me like she was overwhelmed by loud, rowdy kids who were being jerks, but I do not think mob scene. I think woman who was uneasy and overwhelmed. Even three loud kids can be a Lot but it doesn’t make them a gang.

          2. Shay the Fae*

            This doesn’t clarify if you are calling the kids, basically, a gang, or if you are talking about mob mentality.

            1. Rick Tq*

              I am calling the group that chased you to your home and tried to force their way in a mob. Especially since they were pounding on the door after you locked it.

    8. LilySparrow*

      I am so glad you are okay and, especially that your dog kept control of himself. If he’d reacted defensively or nipped at anyone, wow. That could have escalated fast. Good dog! And good training!

      I wonder – and this is just based on my own experience of the common features of kids between areas I used to live in similar to yours, and kids in the more “suburban cul de sac” type area I live in now. The group dynamics are actually pretty similar.

      A group of a dozen mixed-age kids is not a monolith. A chaotic situation can spiral and result in out-of-hand reactions from everyone, but they have different roles in the group and different agendas. Some are instigators, either due to intent or unpredictability. Some are followers. Some are fixers who try to look after and protect the younger ones. And there’s often a competition between the instigators and the fixers as to who is “in charge” of the group.

      I wonder if maybe the kids who tried to follow you inside and yell, or pounded on the door, were the fixers trying to intercede and make sure you weren’t going to call the cops or otherwise get them in trouble? I’ve had some kids get extremely and inappropriately pushy, even when their intentions were pretty good.

      Add to that cultural differences, and kids trying to take adult roles without the skills to do so, and you could easily get kids trying to head off trouble but instead making everything worse.

      I don’t know if that’s what was actually going on, but it’s one possibility that might give you some more hope and confidence in dealing with the situation.

      1. Candy*

        This is sort of what I was thinking. Shay says when they got to the gate the kids screamed and one ran, presumably because of their dogs. And that panic spread while they ignored it and continued toward their front door. To the kids, continuing to walk through the yard full of kids with scary dogs may have come across as Shay being threatening by not caring that their dogs are scaring some of the kids, which may have resulted in the kids throwing the bottles and sticks. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that the kids panicked at the sight of the dogs and got all worked up over it, but Shay panicked at the sight of kids too and instead of calmly introducing their dogs to the new kids, they ignored the kids’ distress and bullied through the throng instead of taking a minute to let them adjust to the dogs.

        If Shay knows most of the kids in their neighbourhood are afraid of dogs but some like them once they’re introduced, wouldn’t it have been better if when Shay got to the gate and the first set of kids screamed, they knelt down and said something like, “oh don’t worry, my dogs are friendly. Come over and pet them.” That may have diffused the initial panic, or maybe not, but as the adult dog owner I think staying calm being aware of how others react to your dogs falls more on Shay than children.

    9. Blue Cheese*

      I’m black and I promise you it is not racist or immorral to call the cops when a black individual (or individuals) does something illegal or wrong. You really should get the cops involved before you or someone else gets hurt. No one here or anyone else should encourage you not to call the cops to report a crime.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Honestly asking—how much should the age of the kids be considered? Like, I could see calling the cops if it was a comparably sized group of 16/17-year-olds, who are larger and more capable of recognizing their actions as crossing a line. But with young kids? It seems different to me.

        There was one time I was walking my kids into our building, when there was a group of 10-12 young teenagers scuffling and yelling in front of the entrance, blocking my access. I steered the stroller wide around them, and once I was inside, I waited a few minutes to see if anyone of them was being hurt. It turns out that it was just some very physical play among friends. I’m glad I didn’t call the police in that situation, even though I was initially a bit scared.

        This is obviously different from what Shay experienced, which sounds much more directed at Shay rather than simply occurring around Shay.

        1. LCL*

          It’s not the age, it’s what they are doing. What you described as yelling and scuffling, of course not. Even a couple kids fighting, no. But I would call the cops if a bunch of 11-12 year olds were ganging up on somebody, even one of their own peer group. Deliberately trying to hit someone with a hard thrown object is crossing a bright line. If he? had tossed a cup of soda I’d have said let it go.

  12. How to love where you live?*

    Any tips for how to love where you live? My dream is to live in France or Scotland, but I realize that it’s not a particularly realistic dream (e.g., both of my parents are U.S. citizens, so getting citizenship would not be that feasible). I would love to hear your suggestions/tips for what you do to better appreciate and feel content with where you live.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Drive around or google as if you were a tourist visiting the area.
      Make note of seasonal changes that are particularly gorgeous.
      Find out what is unique to your area, you may have to include your broader area to find something.
      Ask people why they like living where you are.
      Picture life withOUT the specific people you see daily. Is it better or do you feel a sense of loss with some people?

    2. Jemima Bond*

      It’s a cliche because it’s true – the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. A lot of Scotland (whilst it has many lovely attributes!) has a socio-economic status you would find very difficult coming from the USA (if that’s where you are from). The cost of living and the size of flats/houses is usually better in the USA, for example. In the UK there’s not a lot of air conditioning and practically no drive-thru dunkin’ donuts.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I didn’t mean that last sentence to sound sarky. I mean, a prosaic comparison of stuff like the cost of rent and food and petrol, how many motorways there are and how many sunny days there are per year might cast your current location in a better light!

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Indeed, this is true in France as well (and just about anywhere). There’s the nice romantic image we get of a place, and the qualities that attract us to it in our imaginations. And then there is the reality that it’s just as hard to get a good job, make friends, feel that we are represented in political matters, etc etc. I do like living in England but the image I had of it before I came here was very different from the reality of poverty, racism, despair, and snobbishness that I actually found. Not that everyone in the country is like that, but I didn’t realize just how pervasive those things actually are here.

        And yeah, air conditioning. We’re having a heat wave here, and while it’s nothing compared to the temperatures I used to experience in the desert Southwest, 75-85 F is pretty hot in a place where it is usually very mild and also very humid. My in-laws live in southern France and the climate is a lot like Kansas (hot, humid, lots of bugs) but nobody has A/C there either.

        I suppose the best thing to do is try to analyze what it is that you imagine about those places that you would like. Climate? Accent? Architecture? Culture? You might well find that some part of the US is surprisingly similar.

    3. BeenThere*

      Maybe you can’t move to Europe but perhaps you could move to another state or city? We have lived in Europe and 4 different states and traveled to many others. I think when you find the right place you just know it.

    4. anonagain*

      I recommend the book This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick. It’s kind of in the vein of the Happiness Project and has a bunch of place making exercises.

      I listened to the audiobook just out of curiosity and because I was interested in her personal story. I didn’t set out to do any of the exercises or change how I feel about my city, but I found that it subtly changed how I think about things.

      She discusses a really wide range of strategies, so if a particular option doesn’t work for you, I think you’ll still get something out of it.

    5. RestlessRenegade*

      In my personal experience, there can be things that make the place you’re living not fun for you. (For example, I am NOT a big city person. More than half a million is too many.) But it sounds like you’re talking more globally than just the city, so for me the key is being around the right people. I’m family oriented, so I need to be close to them, but a lot of my friends are unique, worldly, etc. which makes me feel less like everyone around me is a carbon-copy and helps me get that culture that I don’t get in a smaller American town. Then, I also have my favorite places, restaurants, parks, etc. that I frequent, plus new places to try, and finally I make it a point to get out of town two/three times a year. I’d love to be able to travel to new places more often. Hope that helps!

    6. Thlayli*

      I’ve found that people often have unrealistic perceptions of countries they want to live in. Perhaps you have a realistic attitude to Scotland and France. But just in case you do have some idea that Scotland and France are lovely perfect countries, Watch trainspotting, then watch The Class.

      Maybe subscribe to Scottish and French news websites and see what’s happening there.

    7. TL -*

      I (American) moved to NZ for grad school and it’s a beautiful country and some Americans really do love it here – the very laid back ones, usually, who are not a good fit for American culture. (Not lazy! Just very laid back.) Most, if not all, came here either for grad school, which is a great way to move to another country and generally includes job opportunities when you graduate, or because of their partner. (which is a less great way to move because you risk ending up a lot more isolated, especially if you decide to stay after a break-up.)

      That being said, NZ is definitely not for me long-term. The quality of life is lower than what I had in America and it’s in ways that really matter to me (housing, electricity and food prices, and quality of consumables are every day things. Availability and quality of medical care for rare and/or complex disease is a thing I worry about vaguely – in America, I would have health insurance, though, so your mileage may vary.)
      The cultural differences are not super easily discernible but they are deep and profound – for instance, there is an attitude here that the primary responsibility of fixing social issues lies with the government and not the people. Racial relations here are incredibly different, because they’re primarily framed around Maori/European tensions, instead of the hodgepodge that is American racial relations. None of those are wrong for NZ, but it’s very different from my (very American) values and expectations of what responsibility lies where.

      Like I said, there are absolutely Americans here long-term (though all of them have kept their American citizenship as far as I know) who find it a really great fit and don’t mind any of the trade-offs. There is lots about NZ to love, just like in any country! But the things that really get to you aren’t the big obvious things most of the time – they’re the little day to day things or a really fundamental difference in perspective that isn’t easily articulated into a ‘cultural norms’ lecture.

    8. misspiggy*

      I look for walking routes that will take me through the nicest or most interesting bits of an area, and take them frequently. It’s good to feel physically part of what’s going on.

      I make plans to visit the places I love, and make my living conditions as similar as possible. So if there are house types, gardens or decor that remind me of places or ambiences I care for, I prioritise those.

  13. Dopameanie*

    Controversial Opinion Corner:

    Engineeers, man. I’ve been gone a couple weeks for work stuff related to FIXING what engineers BROKE. Consequently-

    Engineers, ranked by their Headache Inducement Potential (high to low)

    1. Civil
    3. Biomechanical (tie)
    3. Mechanical (tie)
    4. Robotics
    5. Social
    6. Software
    7. Electric
    8. Biomedical
    9. Chemical
    10. Agricultural

    This is the only possible ranking, because I used the scientific method to develop it. So obviously there is no possible way to criticize it.

    Regardless, if you enjoy being incorrect, FIGHT ME!!!

    1. hermit crab*

      What about environmental, petroleum, and architectual? I need to know where those rank so I can properly judge the rest of the list.

      1. Dopameanie*

        See, I tried to keep it short because I don’t want my perma-engineer-headache to blossom into an engineer-migraine.

        But you are probably right. Lemme see here: architectural would be maybe tied for 2nd, petroleum between 5 and 6, and environmental is real low, like 11.

        1. hermit crab*

          In that case, I’m cool with your list. Strong work. (I trained as a geologist; engineers are simultaneously our closest colleagues and our mortal enemies.)

          1. Dopameanie*

            I am POSITIVE that it ain’t just geologists.

            TBH, the environmental engineers have been some of the less uppity of the engineering circles I’ve been in.

            Nothing worse than an uppity engineer.

            1. hermit crab*

              I think the environmental engineers get flak from other engineers for not being hard-core/macho/omniscient enough (or so my environmental engineer friends tell me). So it’s not a surprise that they are the closest to, like, regular non-engineer people.

              1. RestlessRenegade*

                Agree 100%. I work with a ton of civil engineers who are also environmental engineers, and the ones who do environmental work (esp. remediation) are far more tolerable than the ones that do geotechnical (landfill, waste management) stuff. The wastewater people are a mixed bag and the geologists are all super friendly. :3

                1. Dopameanie*

                  Can I also just add that the Municipal-level wastewater people I know are EXACTLY the kind of people that I want at my parties? I think maybe working in that portion of the industry makes you take yourself less seriously. Or I’ve been really lucky.

        1. Dopameanie*

          I…uh…didn’t know that was a thing? I thought it was scientists and Homer Simpson all the way down.

        1. Dopameanie*

          Huh. I’ve never specifically dealt with one of those. Which means they are low on the scale! Yay!

    2. Handy Nickname*

      If third place is a tie, wouldn’t that make robotics technically 5th place, since four types of engineers are ahead of them on the list? Call me a nitpicker, but I am just here to defend the sanctity if the scientific method you CLAIM to revere!

      1. Dopameanie*

        *pinches bridge of nose*
        SIGH….Handy, don’t you get it? Engineering is NO PLACE for nit-picking. I mean, attention to detail? Psh. That’s no way to get invited to all the good engineering parties.
        *looks down at handy condescendingly*

        1. only acting normal*

          Yeah! ;)
          Go hang with those persnickety detail obsessed scientists instead.
          (*waves from scientists’ corner*)

    3. AnotherJill*

      Can you add “Electrical who think they are software” and put them at the top please?

      1. Dopameanie*

        Hmm…persuasive claim.

        Rejected on the basis that “list of engineers who are too confident in their abilities and expertise” is just the word ENGINEERS!!!! scrawled on a piece of blueprint paper with a blue-inked pen.

      2. LCL*

        As long as it’s paired with ‘Software who think they are electrical, yet refer to house AC as high voltage!’

    4. LCL*

      As my life partner is a mechanical engineer, I would say MEs are #1. But he makes me pour over coffee. When MEs use their powers for good instead of evil they rock.

      #2 has got to be electrical. Like when I asked this week for some numerical ratings of some equipment. Should have been 10 numbers max, more like 5. He sent the whole 125 page document with the derivation. And no, the values, which were the point, weren’t called out in a table.

      1. Dopameanie*

        A thing that almost came out of my mouth last week:

        Oh, CHARTS?! I got your charts, buddy. I got em riiiiiight here.

        I did not say this. I never get enough credit for the things I manage to not say.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Right? People seriously underestimate how much work it is to not say All.The.Things. Some days it’s exhausting.

          I occasionally tell my husband some of the things I managed to keep from saying, just so he can congratulate me. It helps.

      2. Kuododi*

        I was raised by a mechanical engineer (now retired) and as far as I know…they keep the world properly spinning on it’s axis. Dad.has always been able to fix or repair anything. For example, when I was little, Dad took the bottom of a rubber trash can and used that to repair the clothes dryer. The thing lasted until I was half way through seminary!!!! Now that he’s retired, he spends every Friday at our local School for the Blind repairing Braille writers. He also volunteers with some other of his engineer pals to help at one of the women’s shelter making sure their apartment residences are ready for new occupants. (painting, fixing drywall, repairing appliances and all other stuff needed to keep the facility in good shape for the women and kids.). Needless to say I have always been very proud of Dad. He’s one of those quiet types who does amazing things to give back to the community.

        1. Dopameanie*

          So, maybe it’s just the exposure I’ve had in my industry, but all those things strike me as less mechanical engineering than the horse sense of a good contractor. The kind with a background in farming, yknow?

          Maybe it’s just that’s what a mechanical engineer looks like when you remove the superiority complex. I dunno.

          1. Kuododi*

            Funny you mentioned farming. Daddy was actually raised on a farm in the backwoods of SE USA. He was the first in his side of the family to go to college. He told me more than once that growing up he knew he wanted to be an engineer pretty much as soon as he was old enough to know what the job was, and what it entailed. He would tell me about when he was a kid and all he wanted to do was fix and repair mechanical objects. With no support from his family, he found the right college for his goals and worked to pay his way through for a degree in mechanical engineering. I’m sad to hear you’ve had such negative experiences with engineers. They are just like every other member of the human race. (Good apples and bad apples). I wish you good luck in resolving your headache… Blessings.

            1. Dopameanie*

              I have, recently, had SUPER negative experiences with engineers. But one of my biggest complaints is that they only see the world the way it is presented in a textbook. The only experience they have with physical product is what the vendor showed them at a conference, while it is still SHINY and FUNCTIONAL.

              FARMERS on the other hand, have a boatload of experience making something work that should’ve been junked 15 years ago. They work nearly entirely around long term maintenance in non-ideal conditions with not enough money, manpower or time. Every last one I’ve met is humble and hardworking. I would take 3 farmers over 10 engineers any day of the week.

              1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

                +1 on the farmer over engineer choice. Sigh. If I had to be stuck on a desert island, I’d survive longer with someone with creative fix-it skills and a can do attitude.
                Nephew just chose to get his diesel mechanic certification at community college instead of his Electrical or Mechanical Engineering degree (qualified for “very” good school and was in the gifted program). practical kid and hates office politics. Didn’t have the heart to try to explain that he will either have to work for someone, or deal with customers. At least he gets to work with his hands, which he loves “the most.” Sadly, his schooling never presented him with enough intellectual challenges of the sort that fully engaged his problem solving bent. So he couldn’t see how he might enjoy a career in front of a computer (his words).

              2. OlympiasEpiriot*

                You have my sympathies. This is despite me actually being a card-carrying, licensed engineer. Geotechnical, moreover. A shocking number of us are incredibly impractical. An astounding number are also incurious and just got into this because of wanting a steady job.

                I treasure the engineers who like to tinker, are curious about everything and who genuinely try to collaborate instead of loom over the team.

                1. Dopameanie*

                  Y’all need a secret “one of the good ones” card, or, like, handshake or something. So the rest of us will know what we are getting ourselves into at the preconstruction meetings and whatnot.

                2. OlympiasEpiriot*


                  I got nuthin’. I mean, I pretty much get a sense during a pre-proposal walk-though, but, seriously? No way to tell. This is why I treasure the ones I had good experiences with and I pray they do not retire or have a problem.

    5. Enough*

      What is a social engineer? If it doesn’t require high level science and math and does not come under an engineering disciple that has a licensing procedure they are not engineers. There are many areas to civil engineering. In fact Structural engineers are civil engineers. I’m married to a civil (bridge) engineer and the son is a structural engineer so obviously your first 2 are very very wrong.

      1. Dopameanie*

        Well OBVIOUSLY a social engineer is a civil engineering type who manages to trick somebody into marrying them and perpetuate the engineering species for the next generation. They engineer sociableness.

        Actually, it’s got to do with exploiting how people psychologically work and think to get what you want. Example: your passcode to your fancy software is nearly impossible to crack. So it’s easier to just call the receptionist, pretend to be in IT, and ask her nicely for the passcode.

          1. Dopameanie*

            I feel like your inability to appreciate, participate, or ignore the obvious conceit of this here thread is really headache-y, providing further proof that my list is precisely correct.

    6. LilySparrow*

      I notice that aerospace is not on there, and I commend your perspicacity.

      Because my brother is an AE and is possibly the least headache inducing person I’ve ever met. Also, he shoots things into space.

      The problem with your other engineers is that they have insufficient Awesome to counteract the headache potential.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Now we just need to figure out how to apply a protective layer of Awesome to render headachy people harmless.

          Or perhaps we could administer it internally. What’s the engineer equivalent of a salt lick?

          1. Dopameanie*

            Hmmm….those fancy wood puzzles that you have to figure out how to get apart? Perfectly operational taxpayer owned infrastructure that is vulnerable to gullible politicians? A pie graph that is organized by feelings so they can just consult the chart rather than deal with their own emotions? Gold-plated protractors?

            1. Dopameanie*

              A water clock? The smallest rubber O-ring ever? A puzzle that is missing one piece, and that piece is in their pocket the whole time? A magician who is bad enough at his job that the engineer can figure out how all the tricks work? WD-40? Adult sized tinker toys?

              SO MANY CHOICES!

      1. TL -*

        Oh, no! My brother is an aerospace engineer (who works in oil, so I classified him below as a petroleum engineer) and many of his friends – he went to Georgia Tech – are aerospace engineers.

        Giant headaches, all of them. They can’t see a number without some gadawful techy, mathy discussion and heaven forbid we so much as pass a bridge.

        1. LilySparrow*


          Now that I think about it, my brother’s colleagues do seem to give *him* a lot of headaches. So perhaps he’s an outlier.

          Or perhaps he is hogging too much of the Shooting Things Into Space, and not letting them have enough turns. There could be an Awesome Imbalance.

    7. TL -*

      1. Chemical (I worked in a chemical engineering lab that had left the chemical engineering department because it was too sexist/racist/awful. The lab was also sexist/racist/awful. Chemistry and chemical engineering have a reputation for being sexist/racist/awful.)
      2. Petroleum (my brother is one.)
      3. Biomechanical (they’re pretty cool but sometimes they don’t know anything about biology, which is a pain in the patootie.)
      4. Civil (all the civil engineers I’ve known are pretty darn chill. I like them.)
      5. Robotics (goal focused, does cool stuff, and one of my friends is a robotics engineer. Very cool all around.)

    8. T*

      I work with Civil’s and would probably be classified as one so my experience is they are mostly fine, normal people. Mostly. But in my experience, Mechanical’s and some Electrical’s act like they fully understand civil engineering principals and therefore, can either do my job or want me to thoroughly explain to them why their attempt at my job is wrong. I don’t pretend like I can understand how they design and build airplanes, I don’t see why they think they are an expert in storm drainage or structural walls.

    9. OlympiasEpiriot*

      As someone who works best with her hands, I would put Software at the top. they all want to automate EVERYTHING or claim that there could be an app for whatever it is I’m describing. They seem to act as if there is always network access, satellite access (for GPS), having a computer or tablet is always practical, and there is an endless supply of power.

      They like to wave their hands at me to shoo me away when I bring up subway tunnels, other hard rock tunnels under construction that don’t have repeaters installed, lack of line power, generators that might not have enough redundancy, floods that can knock out power (in tunnels) and other things that Actually Commonly Can Happen And Have Happened On My Jobs and that — although the project supposedly has everything covered — I like to plan around by assuming the worst and THEREFORE don’t want to be relying entirely on GPS/Satellite/Networks/Power and yes people still have to know how to use paper and pencil and we need these forms and people have to know how to communicate using them.

      I kept two jobs running during Sandy and was the main emergency contact on my block during the whole time we had no power. Kept my cellphone charged using a solar cell charger I had (rather large one, Mil Spec at the time), still had no network access over a large party of the city.

      1. Dopameanie*

        I have DEF experienced this. And it’s not just at disasters-level. I’ve seen stuff designed where a frequently needs-maintenance part got stuck in the MOST unsafe part to be. Or! No contingency for eventually replacing stuff as it wears out (like, not leaving space to maneuver an old part out and the new part in) etc.

        And when you bring it up, they pat you on the head and you can HEAR IT while they are thinking “awwww….it thinks it’s engineering people. Isn’t that cute?”


        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          No. Contingency.


          Amazing how they don’t have a contingency plan. I think they just plan to sue someone else when it goes wrong or claim “changed condition”.

      2. TardyTardis*

        We have seagulls that fly into transformers. And bulldozers which dig up and chop fiberoptic into confetti.

  14. Undecided*

    Okay, I’ve asked multiple people in my life for advice about a “dilemma” I’m facing and I just can’t decide what to do.

    Just to preface, I don’t really have a big, close family and that is something I have been craving lately. So, while it appears this dilemma might solve that problem, I’m not so sure. An aunt who I haven’t heard from in almost a decade dropped off an invitation to a family get together (my uncle’s birthday) at my workplace. I work at a school close by to her place, in fact I’ve been working there for about 3 years. I know that she knows I work there, one of the students asked if I knew her one day (he’s belongs to a friend of her’s), I replied with something to the extent that I used to know her, etc. Anyway… I was a bit taken aback by the note. My dad died last year and in the note she said that they were on vacation around the time of his death, didn’t hear about it for a few months later, and gave me condolences and invited me to the party. I guess I should be GLAD they gave me condolences or whatever, but it just irritated me. Yeah, it’s nice of them to send a condolence note… but 15 months later? Gimme a break.

    I guess, I have a lot of anger towards my aunt/her family, because we haven’t heard from them in a decade and we used to be VERY, VERY close. People have pointed out to me that, well… I could have contacted my aunt if I was so hurt by their decision not to contact our family anymore. They’re right, but it didn’t occur to me. I was so young that I thought they had no interest in me, so why bother? I’m sure my aunt had some sort of falling-out with my mother, who has her own issues. But maybe because I’m an only child and her kids were my only close cousins, I just really felt hurt. I mean, my cousins made no attempt to contact me either. I guess, in retrospect, I could have contacted them. Anyway, all in all I took this to mean that they had no interest in me and I just moved on.

    I’m really not sure if I should go to this party or not. My gut has really been leaning towards no, but everyone I ask seems to think I should go. I am very hesitant to go, because… yes, perhaps, this could reconnect us. But she had 3 years to contact me (she’s known that I’ve worked there for that long), but she didn’t.. until now? That just bothers me. I’ve been told that it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I’ve also been told that it WHY she cut off contact shouldn’t bother me, but it does! It just does! I also imagine that going to the party will be unimaginable awkward, what do I say? What do I talk about? Do I just pretend that none of this bothered me?

    I know that I should probably suck it up and go, but I cannot decide. I have to RSVP by Sunday if I want to go and I just can’t decide.

    1. Mananana*

      Why not go, with the knowledge that if you’re not enjoying yourself you can leave when you want to?

      And you’re right that your aunt could have made contact earlier. That said, since you don’t know what precipitated the falling out, it’s quite possible that your Aunt was told not to make contact with you when you were younger. Now, the party may not be the time to ask her why she hasn’t reached out in the past 3 years, but going may open up the door to that conversation at a later date. To refuse to go because you feel that she should have made a move sooner may be the proverbial “cutting off your nose to spite your face” situation.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        To refuse to go because you feel that she should have made a move sooner may be the proverbial “cutting off your nose to spite your face” situation.

        This. It almost seems like the worst case scenario would be that you have a lovely time and that just proves how awful the estrangement was?

        To Buddhist Viking’s point about large, close-knit families forgiving each other a lot–you can feel what you feel about how she should have reached out with different timing, etc. Feelings aren’t logical. But then move beyond the knee-jerk reaction of your gut and look at the logic of it–you want a closer knit family, a family member is tossing out a line to accomplish that, and you don’t want to grab hold. What does turning down her overture gain you, beyond preserving a picture of yourself as someone who wanted a close knit family and has been denied that? And thanks to her you can’t put the blame on other people’s inaction any more. I would listen to the friends pointing out that you could have reached out as an adult exactly as much as they could have reached out, but none of you did. Now one person has.

    2. The Buddhist Viking*

      Having a big, close family requires—almost by definition—doing a lot of forgiving. Large groups of relatives rarely manage to get along perfectly forever. People screw up. Feelings get hurt. Sometimes boundaries are crossed that make a future relationship impossible, but most of the time, relatives make up and go on.

      Your aunt screwed up. She seems to want to extend an olive branch. Maybe she crossed a boundary for you, and what she did was bad enough that a line must be drawn. But if not, you’ve just been shown the price tag of a big, close family. Up to you whether you want to pay it.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is a reasonable summation. Undecided, just as your reasons for not contacting your aunt make sense to you, her reasons for not contacting you made sense to her. I don’t think this is a situation where there’s a bad guy and a good guy, just people who made mistakes and drifted, and maybe want to stop drifting. You can pass on the event, pass on the event but ask to see her somewhere else, go to the thing and decide these aren’t people you ever want to see again, or go to the thing and stay in contact. All of those are legitimate. I just would avoid going if your motivation was about getting answers on past unhappiness rather than reconnecting.

    3. CBE*

      1. Do you WANT to go?
      2. Is reconnecting something you want more than holding on to hurts?
      3. Is there a possibility something happened you don’t know about/understand and getting the full story (or another perspective on it) might help you forgive?

      Ultimately, only you can answer the first, most important question. No one can advise you on that.

      If you truly *want* to rebuild, or even know/understand what happened to cause the rift in the first place, you should go.

      If you don’t, then do go.

      Both are valid options.

      1. AnonAtAllTimes*

        I’d go out of sheer curiosity. What has the OP got to lose? If she doesn’t like what’s going on at this get-together, or if she doesn’t like the people, she can leave. If she likes the company of these folks, she can stay and get to know them better. Later on, if a relationship develops, she can ask why no contact earlier if that’s still important to her. why not scratch that curiosity itch and find out what’s up?

    4. Go*

      Go, you sound like you’ll regret it if you don’t. You don’t make it sound like there’s any danger. And if they’re unpleasant, you’ll just end up having no contact, which is the situation right now. If, on the other hand, it goes well, you might get some closure and take a step towards being a closer family again.
      You also sound like you feel you’re owed an explanation for the no contact, but also that you don’t know what the falling out was over. So I’d suggest to stay calm rather than straight up accusing if you want to know why the radio silence, because it’s possible these people thought you intentionally shut them out too.

      1. Anonymosity*

        This, and if, as someone suggested earlier, your aunt was told not to contact you when you were younger, she may have been respecting a boundary in the interest of peace.

        I’d go. You can always leave if it’s too uncomfortable. And I’d go with the expectation that it may be a little awkward, but it’s probably awkward for them too. Not so much so that they didn’t want to invite you, which is a good thing.

    5. Artemesia*

      There is no way forward in holding grudges. In my experience, when I am in a butthurt snit like this, I usually discover that the other people involved are entirely oblivious and wouldn’t have a clue about what I was upset about. People are all pretty self involved and I doubt she has given you much thought. SO. would it make your life better to be a part of the extended family again? Maybe? It seems pretty low risk to go to a party to find out, but you have to be able to just dump the bad feelings and go with an open heart. But feeling offended by their failure to reach out is a non-starter for you — it won’t make things better.

    6. Temperance*

      Honestly, I would go! If you’re looking to get closer to that branch of the family, this is a great opportunity for it. I think it might have been a clumsy attempt by your aunt to get closer.

    7. bunniferous*

      Sounds like an olive branch to me. Why not go, see how things go….you can always decide to pull back later.

      Family dynamics are weird. There may be reasons they did not reach out earlier. They may have had fears themselves.

      Just go and keep it casual. Later on down the road casually bring up your questions, and you may get some answers that give you some peace.

    8. Cheshire Cat*

      If you have any interest in repairing the breach, go! As others have said, you don’t have to stay long if it’s too uncomfortable.

    9. boop the first*

      If I was in your exact situation, the fact that she physically went out to find you stands out just a bit. I would be wary if the invite was something more typical, like a mass text/facebook invite, or if another family member casually suggested it and aunt had no idea. Heading out on foot to hand deliver a message in the hopes she would run into you sounds somewhat genuine to me.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Well you have more than one thing going on here.
      The first thing that jumped at me is people telling you how you SHOULD feel. Uh. Move away from these folks. Your feelings are your feelings. No one gets to tell us how we SHOULD feel. Please try to separate that from the actual question of going.

      Now. Just for you and not for “you and ten other people’s opinions of what you should feel”. So just for you, do you wanna go? Do you see any hope of a brighter tomorrow if you go? Do you want these people back in your life?

      Picture yourself ten years from now looking back on this time. Do you wish you had gone? OTH Are you proud of you for going even though things just did not go great? (Aiming for worst case scenario here.)

      Some folks in my family waited until my parents were dead to try to connect with me. I tried because I thought I will never know for certain unless I try. I ended up with a mixed bag. I got a couple relationships that were pure gold. I got a couple relationships where we had nothing in common. And I got a couple relationships that ended suddenly.

      I can live with failure better than I can live with uncertainty.

      Now this is clearly a personal decision and not a one size fits all answer. You know you. And you know what it takes to live with yourself and put things in a peaceful place- that is a customized answer and is probably different from my own customized answer for myself.

      Back to feelings. Feeling are not actions, they are just feelings. When we take those negative feelings and put them into action we can sometimes hurt others. But primarily we hurt ourselves and this fact sneaks up on us. We don’t realize how we have hurt ourselves until later. This is why I use the idea of pretending it’s ten years from now and looking back on my thinking regarding a matter.

    11. Kathenus*

      I had a family situation where my immediate family were estranged from someone else in the family and it was a very hurtful situation. My view, and that of those in my immediate family, was that it was this other person and their immediate family that cut off contact. It hurt my mom most of all for some specific reasons I won’t go in to here, and she died thinking this person cut her off intentionally.

      Twelve years later this person reaches out to me to reconnect. We traded a couple of emails and then a long phone call, which started at my request with a frank discussion of the situation. Turns out that there was a terrible combination of communication issues and random bad luck that caused each side to think the other had cut them off. I am now back in touch, my immediate family is slowly reconnecting. It’s still a bit like walking on eggshells at time because of the long separation, intense feelings that occurred during the separation, and the anger that I carried at my mom’s pain due to this.

      The moral for me, that might relate to your situation, is that you only know your perspective on this situation right now. You don’t know your aunt’s and her family’s – at least not all of the details. If you want the chance to have them in your lives, maybe have a frank discussion to get the issues in the open and resolved (or not). Maybe this happens in conjunction with this party, maybe it doesn’t and happens separately. If you choose to not be involved at all of course that’s valid too. But if you do want to give it a chance you may want to take the step of addressing the past head on to see how both sides feel when everyone has both perspectives. Otherwise the resentment could torpedo any chances of success.

      I empathize, and hope that whatever course you choose brings you peace.

    12. Loopy*

      So I had a somewhat similar situation with an estranged family member I had never met reaching out to me. I hadn’t bee around for whatever issues caused the separation and had only seen the aftermath.

      My approach was to give it a shot with conditions. If it did not feel healthy and enrich my life, I’d walk away knowing this person wasn’t a good addition to my life.

      I went in telling myself I could pull away if I felt I should / needed to. Ultimately, it turned into a healthy, happy relationship. But if it hadn’t I don’t *think* I would have regretted giving it a chance.

    13. ronda*

      if the part about being invited to a party is bothering you and you might like to see her or them in a different setting……. say sorry, I cant make that date, but I would like to set up … your alternate plan of what would be a better setting. Then take the lead on setting that up.

    14. LilySparrow*

      I think it makes perfect sense that all those things bother you and to want to know why. But you have to decide if you want to find out and reconnect, or just sit on that hurt indefinitely.

      The party may be awkward, but it’s a first step. Sure, they had a long time to reconnect, but as you are well aware, it can be hard to figure out what to say or how to overcome the awkwardness.

      This is an opportunity to reconnect in a positive atmosphere instead of a confrontational one. Then if you want to talk about the separation and find out why it happened, you’ll be coming from a good place instead of out of nowhere.

      It’s not about forgetting the breach. It’s about actively choosing to try and fix it.

      You said you used to be close, you do want family connections, and you want to find out what happened. If you go, you are one step closer to getting the things you want. If you don’t go, you are just as far away. Or actually, even farther, because you’ve made your isolation into an active choice instead of a passive circumstance.

      You have to choose something, why not choose to move forward?

    15. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The longer one waits to reconnect with someone, especially someone you feel you have wronged in some way, the easier it is to procrastinate. And the more you procrastinate the harder it gets to make that contact. I’ll bet that every time she drove by your school she thought about calling you. I’ll also bet she regrets not calling you the first time she thought about it and all the times after that. Now she’s broken the cycle with her invitation and I think you should go. Maybe you’ll learn why you haven’t heard from that side of the family, and maybe you won’t. It probably won’t feel like you’re picking up where you left off and it might be tiring and hard. But I think you’ll regret it if you don’t go. And if you don’t go, the next opportunity will likely have to be one you create. So going is the easier option. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity: there will be lots of other people around so no opportunity for drama or intense conversations, and there will be food you can use as a diversion.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Look, you’re upset because they never contacted you, and you never contacted them. I get it, but no one is perfect. In that situation, unless SOMEONE contacts someone else, it just stays status quo. It’s a party. It’s nearby where you frequent. Go. If its not going well, leave. Pick a quiet moment and ask what happened. I promise, you’re overthinking this.

  15. Shay the Fae*

    I’m trying to clean my apartment to day and maybe do other productive things, but I’m just so upset and unfocused. :(

    1. Dopameanie*

      A Bad Thing happened. If there weren’t mental/emotional consequences from that you would have bigger issues than what you are facing now!

      It might help to set a timer and just WALLOW for a bit. Allow yourself to recognize the turmoil on the inside stead of pushing it away.

      Then when the timer goes off, do an easy chore that you can cross off the list.

      Repeat as necessary, and BE GENTLE with yourself!

      1. Artemesia*

        good advice. I have a terrible time motivating myself to do these tasks and following a bad situation it would be even worse. The only thing that works for me is to break it down into little tasks and do one and cross it off — very reinforcing. And when I am upset or sad, getting small meaningless things done really helps. I may be miserable, but that quarter inch of dust on the bookshelves is gone.

      2. Lemonworld*

        I *love* setting timers for my “bad” feelings. It’s my best trick for getting through a tough day. I often find that I’ll say “I’m going to set a timer and feel miserable for 2 minutes” and after less than a minute, I am out of misery.

    2. LilySparrow*

      I have found a lot of feel-good cleaning motivation that takes my mind off things by watching YouTube videos of cleaning/organizing channels or TV shows. Clutterbug.me has a fun quirky energy, and How Clean Is Your House makes me feel better by comparison (and they are silly). You get some mindless tv plus a boost to accomplish something.

      Hope you are feeling better soon!

    3. Thursday Next*

      I like watching light shows that I’ve seen multiple times, and cleaning while the shows are on in the background. It’s kind of “stealth cleaning.” I find having some familiar and beloved on is comforting.

  16. Ms. Gullible*

    I have what should be my final mediation session next week. (Ex and I have to do them separately.) We cannot agree on physical custody. I’m going to be spending the weekend organizing my documentation for my lawyer as I am almost positive we are headed for court. I’m petrified of what is going to happen.

    I filed for sole custody at the temporary hearing. The judge was going to grant it to me but my ex only got a lawyer right before the hearing and asked for a continuance. Judge granted and at the continuance, changed her decision only because we both had conflicting affidavits. Judge ordered a temporary joint custody arrangement with several stipulations and ordered mediation for final custody order.

    I want to believe the legal system has the best interests of my children at hand but even my ex’s parents state they have already made a mistake granting joint thus far. I’m fighting this uphill battle and no matter how many people I have fighting for my kids sake, I’m afraid he’s going to get what he wants only to hurt me and not benefit our kids.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Don’t worry that the judge is against you – based on what you’ve described, she is just dealing with conflicting evidence and wants to see if mediation will resolve things.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Judges can see right through bs when there is bs. Sometimes they have to take the long road so that they can drop the hammer for once and for all. This takes extra steps to get to a permanent resolve and, of course, more time. But once you have it then it’s yours.

    2. Belle di Vedremo*

      I’m sorry things are playing out this way. Might your ex’s parents contact your attorney and offer to make a statement on your behalf, through your attorney or directly to the judge?

      And if it doesn’t go the way you hope, talk with your attorney about what to track, and how to reopen the question in the future.

      Internet hugs if you’d like them.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    Any advice on how to go about overhauling my flower garden? I realize I can Google this, but I’d like to hear from someone whose done it before and/or is a gardener at heart.

    I mentioned on the July 4th thread that I’ve decided I need to till it up and start mostly from scratch. I’m not sure if I’ll try and tackle it myself or have someone come in and do it. It will likely be split, since some of it won’t be too demanding (digging up some perennials I want to keep), while some of it is just too much for me to handle (the three merged hedges with all the vines growing in). I’m thinking I won’t need to empty it 100% since a portion of it is mostly weed-free and low maintenance.

    The perennials I’d like to save are: rose champions, lemon thyme, a few tulips that came from my dad’s funeral, some salvia, phlox and a couple other small plants that I had bought last year. I don’t think I’ll need to dig up the lemon thyme, because it’s in the area that is virtually weed-free and it’s on a corner. It’s also quite large (probably 6 feet x 4 feet) and I’m not sure how I’d keep that alive during the process. The phlox isn’t very large, but will need to be removed since it’s in the problem area.

    Within the problem area are some vines that keep regrowing; a tree of heaven that keeps regrowing (it’s about two feet tall right now); a couple random bushes that keep coming back even though we cut them to the ground last year (should have dug them up); lots of grass and other random weeds; and tons of poppies, tulips and some daffodils, which will likely have to be sacrificed. They’re gorgeous when they bloom, but they’re out of control with no rhyme or reason as to where they were planted (previous owner). Plus I hate how the remaining foliage looks when the blooms die, and having to remove it all so the summer perennials can breathe and be seen.

    Garden size overall, not including the merged hedges, is about 12 x 12 roughly. I’m just eyeballing it and it’s not as large as my family room, but bigger than my den.

    The end result I’m looking for is something that is easy to maintain, meaning that I don’t have to spend hours/days weeding like I do now. I want to do minimal weeding, maybe spray some weed killer each year and throw down some new mulch. And then…enjoy it!

    1. What time of year should I do this overhaul? I’m in zone 6B (central CT) and the garden is in full sun from early morning until sunset.
    2. How should I go about the process? We have a tiller and the usual garden tools. I assume I would dig up whatever I want to keep and then…?
    3. The different areas are divided by rocks, so I would guess I should remove them so I can get it all.
    4. Can I put the “to be saved” plants in pots for a length of time? I don’t envision being able to complete this in one weekend with the condition of my back. I see it happening over several weeks.
    5. Can I dig up the tulip, poppy and daffodil bulbs and replant a few of them? I would think so, but want to check.
    6. How should I prepare the ground and reassemble when ready to replant?

    1. Dopameanie*

      How ugly are you comfortable with the work in progress being?
      What is an acceptable time frame?
      What is your opinion on chemicals?
      What type of look are you going for?
      What % of your garden are you cool with re-imagining every year? (Annual to perennial ratio, rocks, decoration etc)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Hmmm. Good questions.

        I don’t care how ugly it is because it’s in the backyard.
        Several weeks to a month probably. I can be a slacker, so that seems doable for me.
        I don’t mind using them. I do have well water, though, so I’m guessing I can’t go overboard with them.
        Look…not sure. Cleaned up, not overly crowded. I like the wild, country look. Not overly manicured.
        I’d prefer to do all perennials, just because it’s easier. There are a couple very small spots, maybe 2 x 3, where I could throw some annuals, but not necessary. There are rocks for the borders, and there are several borders. There are also some bigger rock interspersed among the plants, but not many. Less than 10.

        1. Dopameanie*

          If you want to (literally) scorch the earth, you can get out whatever you want to live, then put down several layers of thick black plastic. Leave it there for, like, a year. Everything-including earthworms and beneficial bacteria- will be scorched dead. Then put down weed control blanket and start all the way over.
          Pros: cheap, gives you time to plan, easy.
          Cons: bad for your dirt health, suuuper ugly, takes a long time.

          1. Alice*

            I heard on my favorite gardening podcast (You Bet Your Garden from WHYY) that the soil microbiome a few months after you finishing solarizing a bad is more diverse than before. If that’s true, then one of the cons might actually be a pro. No idea if it’s accurate info though.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          We did lasagna gardening for a while. You put down a layer of wet newspaper or cardboard then build up. Layer peat moss and grass clippings and compost and straw, what ever you have, more brown stuff than green stuff. Plant right in it. The paper kills the weeds and grass underneath.

          The problem is getting enough material, especially for a large garden. If you are willing to buy a lot of stuff, it’s easier.

          The book we got it from is Lasagne Gardening by Patricia Lanza. I’d recommend you get an interesting looking gardening book or two from the library anyway.

    2. fposte*

      Speaking as a fellow gardener, I think this plan sounds like a ton of work and has a high risk of recreating the same problems all over again next year. There really is no “scratch” with a living ecosystem. A lot of what you’re dealing with will be annual weeds that are all over your locality and will come back next year, as will grass, and deep-rooted things (an established tree of heaven can go pretty deep) may laugh at the tiller.

      Here are some alternative possibilities:
      talk to a couple of different landscapers (garden centers often have associated ones), being candid about what you want and don’t want in terms of maintenance, and get estimates; often they’re willing to do different levels of price depending on different levels of your work and different degrees of change. That doesn’t mean you have to hire one, but it will help give you a better mental framework for what might be done. One thing worth considering is whether you want all of this to be garden bed; hardscaping, or even just using stones on top of landscape fabric as mulch around small shrubs or trees, could be attractive while minimizing labor, and containers/raised beds may be a better fit for people with bad backs than ground level beds.

      Consider this year a loss. The best time to deal with weeds is before they come out, and they’re out now. If you wait until next spring you could put down landscape fabric over the area and pile it up with mulch.
      Tree weeds could be attacked in the meantime–one thing you can do is cut them down and paint the stump with Roundup.

      That approach will suppress most of the existing weeds, but you will still get plenty of grass and seeding from annual weeds in the area, because that’s what they do. That’s why I’m suggesting you consider not leaving the whole thing a bed–even if the weeding isn’t as bad, it will always need to happen.

      On stuff to salvage: you can dig up and transplant tulips and daffodils. Sounds like really you only want to do that with the ones from your dad’s funeral, though, and that would save you some work; you also can always get daffs and tulips again if you change your mind and want them later. (Be aware that most kinds of tulip, especially florist tulips, only last a few years anyway. Plant them very deep to enhance their longevity.) Poppies aren’t bulbs, and they do not transplant well. Rose campion transplants easily (it’s a hair away from a weed with its cheerful self-seeding). Salvia and phlox could transplant okay but are also not tough to replace if something goes wrong. What I’d probably do is plan for another location for these over the winter (keep in mind that containers are about two zones colder than your actual zone, so only the hardier plants could make in containers) and move them this fall, leaving the work field clear for next spring.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I just thought of another possibility. Start next year as I said, but focus on annuals rather than perennials; you can till the whole thing under once or twice a summer and plant new batches.

        And yet another: focus on plants that grow dense enough to limit weed opportunities. Something like Vinca minor will, especially if planted fairly densely to begin with, choke off a lot of weed growth (though IME grass will still get through), and tougher plants like daylilies can be planted in there for higher bloom.

        1. Natalie*

          If you have creeping charlie as well, vinca minor seems to be no match for that. :(

          1. fposte*

            I’m not sure napalm is a match for creeping charlie. But there’s no desirable undercover that’s going to completely squash the weeds; the closest is grass, which cheerfully expands into neighboring beds.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I think digging up and potting the few things I want to keep, and then starting early next spring sounds like the best plan. That will give me time to actually plan, rather than just making something up on the fly. I also do want to get someone in to give me estimates, since I may have them do the work in the spring. I alternate between wanting to totally demolish it and completely change the landscape, so to speak, and just attacking the problems areas. I mentioned in reply to NSNR’s post that it’s not that any of this is sentimental, it’s the fact that I’ve spent a few years busting my butt to try and maintain what was there when I moved in. Feels like lost time, money and energy if I scrap the whole thing. But it’s just dirt.

        1. fposte*

          I’m definitely trying to steer you away from making my mistakes here :-). Dopameanie asked some good questions upthread and I’d add a few for you to think about as you plan: how much time are you willing to spend on maintenance, like, per week, per month, per year? Are there kinds of maintenance that are particularly bothersome to you? (Like, watering vs. pruning vs. weeding vs. thinning.) What time of year are you likeliest to enjoy the area, and will you also enjoy it when looking out of the windows in other seasons? It sounds like you like a more cottagey style; is that correct? That can actually be more challenging than a more classically landscaped style because it’s harder to do things like mechanical weed suppression–is that okay with you? (I think there’s an inverse maintenance rule–the more work done on the space initially, the less you need later, and vice versa.) I’m not asking for answers here, just suggesting that those might help guide you in planning the space for longer satisfaction.

          And your work wasn’t wasted–you learned a lot from it. Including the fact that nothing in gardening is forever, but some things will last long enough to give you joy.

        2. Jen Erik*

          That’s exactly where I was with the border. We took the garden over when my dad died, and he was a horticulturalist, so it was a thing of real beauty & interest in his time. And even though I’ve known it needed a job done, I kept trying to preserve & maintain it.
          But in the end, for me, the weeds were too intractable & I don’t have his level of skill or knowledge, and the future cost of time, money and energy is less if I aim for planting that I can cope with. (Mini meadows everywhere!)

          I like the idea of the tree. Weeping willows are lovely, but their roots can be problematic if they are near the house. If you chose something deciduous you could underplant with spring bulbs, so you’d still have a display of flowers.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Good point about a tree and it’s roots. I estimate it would be about 50 feet from the back of the house. Weeping willows can be huge, so I’ll have to ask someone about that. From what I remember (maybe from school?), a tree’s roots stretch out as far as their canopy; however, I’m not sure that’s true. A weeping willow would go perfectly in my country-like setting. And it would hide that new house behind us.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Don’t know if you will see this but here goes.

              Most trees will send out roots to match their above ground growth. Sometimes roots go out farther. ( I worked in a nursery for almost a decade, we had to know stuff like this.)
              Willows need a pond or an underground stream to feed the roots. They are heavy drinkers. If they don’t have a lot of water they will die.

              On the good news side if you have a friend with a willow tree maybe they will give you a branch. Bring it home, stick it in a damp muddy place that will be its home and you’re done. The willow branches develop roots very quickly and they grow fast. I have one here that I started 15 years ago and it is up beyond the roof of my 1.5 story house. It’s probably 8-10 inches in diameter at the base. I started it from a measly STICK.
              I keep mine with bobbed “hair cuts” so I can mow under them and so air circulates.

              People who have them near ponds complain that the water tastes/smells funny. I guess that won’t matter if the person does not use the pond for anything. My soil here is soggy with many underground streams. I don’t smell anything. And I will never drink THAT water.

              Definitely keep any trees out from the house and away from pipe work such as sewer/septic and water. Also, look up. You want to watch for power/cable/phone lines, not a problem now but when it grows it could be. I think you have a decent sized lot with a few options. so thinking about this stuff will only be beneficial in the future.

              I hear your discouragement with so much time and money. Yep, that is right. This is how it goes with landscaping. We used to advise people not to spend more than 5% of the value of their property on landscaping. The return on investment is not there. I am sure there is an updated version to that rule of thumb. I always thought just buying shoves. rakes and hoses, etc chews up most of that for me. When you go for the redo, think about what would be easiest to maintain. If you can maintain it, you’ll probably get more enjoyment.

    3. Jen Erik*

      I’d vote for the having someone in to do it. (I’m in the UK, so things might be different, but I’m thinking someone with a mini digger could take up the hedges and tree roots quickly, and will also take the stuff away afterwards. I don’t know about vines.)

      I think you can do this sort of stuff anytime – the rule is you try to move plants March or October (in the UK) – early spring or late Autumn – but for a major renovation I don’t think it matters. For myself, I wouldn’t bother trying to save anything that isn’t sentimental or expensive to replace – we’re doing a major blitz on the herbaceous border this year (bindweed: it’s a curse) and I’ve just resigned myself to losing anything that can be easily replaced.
      Things like the phlox and the poppies can be grown from seed – and daffodil bulbs aren’t that expensive, though you could try lifting them. You can lift the tulip bulbs, but they won’t last for ever; I was surprised to learn that a lot of the big displays treat tulips as annuals – they just buy fresh every year.

      Just for comparison, I’m thinking of the herbaceous border as a two year project – we lifted stuff in Spring, dug through it over the last couple of months, have covered it with black plastic to coax the remaining bindweed roots to the surface, and then, depending how the coaxing goes, will replant either next Spring or next Autumn. If you have perennial weeds, it’ll take time to clear them properly.

      How you prepare the ground depends a bit what kind of soil you have, and what you’re hoping to grow. Typically the suggestion for people with bad backs is to raise the planting – so you could have gravel or paving (really low maintenance) with either raised beds or pots. Equally, we’ve a couple of spaces in the garden that we’ve turned into mini wildflower meadows which would work in a garden with full sun (very much a wild country look – also good for bees and butterflies, and very low maintenance. ) You usually want poor soil for that, but I think you can buy mixes designed for better soil types. But you would need to have all the perennial weeds out first.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I love the idea of mini wildflower meadows. My house was built in 1735 and that kind of thing would look very natural in my yard. I have a package of that seed mix that contains all sort of annual and perennial wildflowers. I could toss that in there after we dig it up.

        I wouldn’t say there’s anything sentimental in the garden except for the tulip bulbs that came from my dad’s funeral, but I know exactly where those are and they’re not in the area I need to overhaul. The reason I want to save some plants is mainly because they’re established and were here when we moved in, which means I wouldn’t have to spend a lot on buying a large enough plant to fill in the garden, and wouldn’t have to start with tiny plants because that’s what I can afford. Basically it’s just to save some money and keep things that look nice.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d recommend doing a planting of one or two varieties of plants and that is it.
      So maybe a row of Xs across the back and a row of Ys across the front.
      It’s much easier to maintain rather than having a mixed group of all kinds of things. However you can do variations on this. Xs across the back, with clusters of A, B and Cs across the front. There’s other variations, the over all idea is large clusters of the same plant. It’s easier to keep it neat.

      Your bulb flowers are probably coming up everywhere because squirrels dig them up and replant them for us. Actually I think they forget where they left them. I have tulips in the oddest places. I mow tulips regularly because of this.

      If it were me, I would wait until fall for this. Full sun, all day, no way. Wait until it cools down first. Salvage your tulip and daffs now because you will not be able to find them in the fall. You can move them to a temporary area if need be . The poppies will reseed themselves. Maybe you can save some seed pods to carry them over to their new setting.

      A 12 x 12 bed of flowers is a lot of work. You may want to consider downsizing the bed and returning it to lawn where possible.

      My back is aching just thinking about doing this.
      If I wanted to do it in one weekend, I would bring in help. Pay people to get it to the point where I can put plants in and throw down mulch.
      If I wanted to do it myself over a period of weekends, I would divide it into sections. Let’s say I decide on four weekends. This would be a 3 x 12 area per weekend, roughly. I would clean it out, replant it and mulch it. Next weekend do the next 3 x 12 area and so on.
      It’s helpful to draw a little picture before you start. Having to dig AND figure out what to do wears thin really fast.
      Tilling is not going to remove vine roots. From what I see here NOTHING removes vine roots. I have grape vine and bittersweet that lays dormant for decades and pops right up if I am late mowing. Hopefully the vines are off to the side somehow? You may want to invest in a stirrup hoe:
      It’s good at quickly weeding large areas on a regular basis. You never quite conquer the weeds though, you still have to weed regularly. At least it goes fast.

      Even if you hand dig, I am not convinced vines and such would not come back. Hand digging allows you to sort out roots but man-oh-man that is tedious. I don’t think the results are that great.

      Back to prepping, I would till it, throw down some composted manure, till that in and then rake it smooth. Plants and mulch OR landscape fabric, plants, mulch, next. Keep it well watered. I’d use sprinklers rather than a handheld hose. Depending on the weather I used to set a timer in my kitchen for a period of time and run out to move the sprinkler after a set period of time. I have a small lot so this is not a lot of effort.

      Rocks.I think I remember the pictures and the rocks were pretty big? If yes, then I would go around them rather than move them. You can just make sure that you get up close and weed by hand right around them.

      Holding plants for replanting. If you know you will replant it the next weekend I have had good luck with putting plants in buckets of water in the shade. They can hold their own for 6-7 days. If it’s going to be longer than that, yep, pot them up or put them in the ground some where else, temporarily. Preferably near a water source so you don’t keel over lugging water to them every other day.

      I hope this helps some.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        My thought is definitely to do this over a longer period, so I would pot the plants I want to save. Although I’d love to just throw money at this and have someone come in and do it all, it’s not a smart budget move for me at the moment. Plus I’m guessing it would cost more now than to wait until very early spring when things haven’t bloomed yet.

        Rocks. No, I wouldn’t move the ones that are in the middle since they’re half-buried. I’d likely move the borders, though, as those are small.

        So much to think about. Part of me wants to level the whole thing and just completely start from scratch, as though it was never there. But another part wants to preserve some of it. UGH. I guess I feel like I spent four years trying to maintain this thing and by scrapping the whole thing, it was a waste of time, money and energy. Guess I should get over it!

      2. charlatan*

        I’m a struggling new gardener and a stirrup hoe is exactly what I need but until now I didn’t know it existed. I’ve just spent 10 minutes on Youtube being mesmerized by weeding demonstrations. Thank you!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it kind of a shortcut way of doing things. You cut the roots but leave some behind. However, this can be quite workable in some situations. I used a friend’s then I knew I had to have one.

    5. Kathenus*

      I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a plant person and can kill almost any plant. That said, I have an incredibly beautiful and easy to care for pollinator-friendly garden in my backyard. I tilled just with a metal rake, bought a combination of native prairie grasses/pollinator friendly plants-flowers/milkweed (for monarch butterflies), mixed the seeds altogether and just put them all out there in the winter (some need a hard freeze after planting to sprout correctly). It grows up three to six feet high with a wonderful array of plants and flowers every year. Probably a lot of weeds too, but I don’t really care. The only thing I do is to cut it all back late winter, remove the deadfall, and then wait a couple of months until it all starts growing again. It’s great for wildlife, easy to maintain, and beautiful. Native plants are needed, so it’s also helpful to the environment.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m a reformed plant killer. After four years of being in this house, I’ve finally trusted myself to have two raised bed veggie gardens and they’re growing!

        That sounds beautiful! I have a ton of milkweed and I’m actually looking to get rid of it because it’s everywhere.

    6. OyVey*

      Specifically regarding your tree of paradise – they are an absolute pain in the a** to get rid of. The state I live in considers them a nucience species. Originally planted because they do grow fast and they do stabilize disturbed slopes and areas prone to erosion, however, they also crowd out native species and are water hogs (a serious concern where I live). Anyway, contact a landscaping company and find out what herbicide could be sprayed on the tree of paradise after it’s cut again. Asplund just cut a stand of them out of the alley behind our house and sprayed something blue on the stumps. The crew chief said it’s an herbicide designed for tough nucience trees/bushes. Normally, these things start regrowing within days of getting cut down but the stand that got treated is finally drying out and going away.

      Which reminds me I need to seed bomb that slope with native grasses so we don’t get other nuciences growing instead.

    7. LilySparrow*

      Ohmigosh, do not, ever, under any circumstances, use a tiller where you have perennial weedy vines or bulbs! There is no way you will get all the root out before you till, and you will wind up with 100 new shoots for every 1 you had before.

      Get out what you want to keep and smother, smother, smother. Can you afford to lay a layer of bagged soil or have new topsoil brought in? If solarizing the soil with plastic sheeting isn’t good for you, you could try killing the stumps with Roundup or burning them out with a propane torch, then put down several layers of weed barrier and lay 6-12 inches of fresh soil, and then mulch. Of course, you’d have to use commercial or know where it came from to avoid introducing new weeds.

      That could be prohibitively expensive and there are other good suggestions on here. But whatever you do, don’t try to solve a weed problem with a tiller.

      I once spent weeks trying to hand-dig and pull some wild violets out of a bed. I didn’t realize I was just propagating the rhizomes. The next spring I got a carpet of ten thousand of them and have renamed it my “native perennial flowering groundcover.” Ack.

    8. Lizabeth*

      Check out the local garden club asap…they will be familiar with what works in your area plus have advice.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yes! Or your local cooperative extension office – they usually have a lot of lawn & garden resources on their website.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Another option, which my husband brought it while we were doing some yardwork today, is to demolish it and plant a big tree. It would be nice to get some shade and block the newly built house behind us, and we have plenty of room for something like a weeping willow. We could make a new garden on the side lawn which is empty, full sun and quite large.

      1. fposte*

        Your agricultural extension service might be really helpful here–usually they’re associated with the county or the state university–in providing information about what trees are recommended and what trees aren’t. I may be misunderstanding how the space works, but 12×12 is too small for a weeping willow–it needs 40-50 feet, and it needs not to be near any underground utilities. If you like the weeping form, though, there are beautiful small trees that will fit in a 12×12 space, like a cherry or a mulberry (I think you can also find weeping dogwoods and redbuds but they might need more specialty acquisition). While you can also find some beautiful weeping Japanese maples, they generally don’t like full sun and will likely burn. Mine’s under high dappled shade and the leaves still get a little toasty some years.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          12 x 12 is just the garden itself. It’s only a small section in my backyard, which is pretty big. I would say the garden is within a space that’s about 1/4 of an acre (flat, open land), and that doesn’t include the rest of the backyard, which is much bigger. I do have room for a weeping willow in theory, but once I started reading about them, it’s not a good option for us because of a septic tank (no longer in use) nearby and some other obstacles I didn’t think about.

          With several options offered here, I’m still undecided. I think I should just pot/relocate some plants this year, save a few bulbs or relocate them, get someone out for an estimate and talk it through, and then wait until next year.

    10. Extra Vitamins*

      Do NOT till the tree of paradise. You will end up with a whole grove of them. In fact with a mature one, you will get bunches of shoots up from the roots if you cut it down. I recommend cutting slashes in the bark and then painting herbicide into the cuts. Maybe use copper sulfate.

      Meanwhile, the bulbs you mentioned are easy – once the leaves dry or turn yellow after blooming, dig them up, and store them somewhere dry and dark until you can replant. If the bulbs are about the size of one you see in the store, they should come back in the spring. For tulips, if you find a cluster of little bulbs instead of one big one, they won’t bloom again.

      1. OyVey*

        I have an epic story about ridding my backyard of trees of paradise that eventually ended with 50 lb roots and a five foot deep hole. I commented above about how those trees are water hogs; the root that took two people to move when we broke it out now weighs 10 lbs on a bad day, after 3 years of sitting out in all weathers (and our sub 20% relative humidity for 3 or 4 months out of the year).

    11. Belle di Vedremo*

      I’d go for a range of suggestions and resources. Your state extension office likely has local programs, eg “Master Gardeners” and staff as resources. You’ve got a botanical society there, and I’d check them out and look for native plant folks for your area. I’d spend this summer looking for input and suggestions, and be getting ready to retrieve what you want to save at the end of the season and prep to target things you’d like removed while they’re more dormant.

      I’d also get quotes on removing the no longer in use septic tank out, so that you have more options there.

  18. The Buddhist Viking*

    How do you help an adult with poor self-esteem? At what point can you say to a person who has genuinely suffered many losses, “you’ve gone from grief to self-pity”? This person has lost a career and a marriage, but has work that, if not lucrative, is enjoyable and flexible. Also has a new relationship with someone, who as far as I can see is a far better partner than the ex ever was. This person is attractive, warm, gregarious, bright, and only in their 40s, so there’s time to start new things. But there’s so much mourning for what was lost, what could’ve been. So much self-punishment for not seeing what was going wrong. So much self-doubt and despair about the future.

    My gut instinct is that this isn’t clinical depression. But I am at a loss as a friend to figure out how to help, or even what they can do for self-help. Can self-image be changed at this point in life?

    1. Photographer*

      Sure it can. If you have the rational equity, I think you can gently point out the self-pity. Perhaps you can share your own experience of finding gratitude for the things you DO have, and encourage them in doing so.

    2. matcha123*

      I feel like your friend, minus the marriage/divorce, partner and good job.
      Look, it’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’ve always been made to feel bad about yourself. I think that a friend can help, not by constantly pointing out how good they have it, but by engaging in conversation with the person and treating fairly. The person themselves has to take a step back and do some inward searching.
      At 34, I’ve felt like my life is over and I’ll never find a good job or a boyfriend or anything. Barring any unfortunate circumstances, I have at least 30 more years of life to live and 30 more years to get back on my feet. And I remind myself that my life is someone else’s dream and I want to make the most of it.

    3. CBE*

      Yep, it can. But you can’t change it. She can, if she wants to.
      Therapy can help, if she expresses a desire for change, urge her that way.
      In the meantime, please stop judging her grief as self pity. That’s not helpful to her, and grief is a very personal process that never really ends. I’d be SUPER pissed if a wave of grief returned (as happened to me yesterday over the death of a family member nearly 20 years ago) and someone told me my grief was not grief but instead “self-pity”
      So there isn’t a point at which you can tell someone that.

      1. Artemesia*

        Always a delicate thing. But I have been helped by a dear friend who has occasionally pointed out a self destructive pattern in my wallowing or something I was doing socially that was damaging to my relationships. Sometimes it isn’t some big thing, but something that paying attention can change. If I saw someone making their current life miserable by wallowing in past grievances or sorrows, I might focus on that fact with them if I had a very good relationship and knew when to shut up. Snapping someone out of a negative cycle can happen but has to be done with delicate touch.

        1. Fiennes*

          Yes, exactly. A good friend *can* wake you up to a destructive thought pattern; self-pity qualifies, and I speak from experience when I say it can be incredibly damaging even when the causes are valid. But this is a thing to be said gently and carefully if at all.

    4. fposte*

      I think this comes under the “You can say it once” rule. “I think you’re so focused on what you’ve lost that you’re missing out on the rich life you actually have, and I hope you’ll consider seeing a professional about it if you’re not already. And I don’t think I’m helping you or our friendship by encouraging you to go down that conversational path anymore, so I’m going to redirect you in future.” And when Friend says “Yeah, job’s fine, but it’s not like when I was with Queen Victoria at the palace” you can say “Well, you know what I think about that. So are you going to the Fourth of July cleanup?”

    5. KayEss*

      I think one thing you can do is stop the spiral of self-denigration in the moment before it takes over your time together. When the conversation starts to turn toward them beating themself up, gently put a stop to it with something like, “Hey, I wouldn’t sit and listen to someone else say that sort of unkind thing about you, and I don’t want to sit and listen just because it’s you saying them. How about [subject change]?” and then redirect any subsequent turns with a shorter version, like “That’s not a very nice thing to say about yourself! Anyway, [subject change].”

      Alternately, make the shame/pity cycle conversation BORING for them, at least with you. When it starts up, respond maybe once or twice with “Yeah, that’s sucky. What do you think you’ll do about it?” and then drop to “Huh. So how’s [subject change]?” if it persists.

      You can’t make them get help, but you can try to make your interactions with them less about their wallowing.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Suggest grief counseling.
      Alternatively, sometimes when people cannot let go of past pain it is because something in current time is causing new but similar pain.
      OTH, sometimes people cannot move through grief because they do not perceive themselves as moving toward something new.
      And people do experience a loss of power/autonomy in time of multiple losses.
      Why not start with,”Friend, you don’t seem like yourself. Is there something that you would like to change/beef up in life?”

    7. Lissa*

      One thing I’ve come to see more as I get older, talk to more people etc. is that especially by our 40s nearly everybody has suffered a genuine loss, something that could be focused on and grieved. Very often, the actual magnitude of the loss seems to not really relate to how the person deals with it. If your friend is self-punishing over a divorce and loss of a career, things that while sad are within the normal range of bad things to happen to adults, it would be something else. The losses are a focus, but the self-image goes deeper than that, I would say.

      Of course it’s wrong to say someone “should” be happy because they have a pretty objectively good life. But if they aren’t, being able to look past tangible things can be really helpful. Which is in no way your responsibility as a friend, and I’m thinking that therapy is in order here to figure out the root of it.

  19. NeverNicky*

    I’m quite charmed by all the #ItsComingHome memes/videos and #GarethSouthgateWould tweets but the whole football hype in England is bonkers. It will all end in tears…

    Mr Never is watching the match but I’m hiding upstairs with my book!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      On the other side of this as Sweden fans. Other Half is trying to be stoic and all “I dont really care” but you know he does :P I may leave the room because I can’t stand the tension.

      If England win itll get ugly and if they lose itll get ugly so we decided to stay at home to watch the game. Just glad its not an evening game. I can’t imagine what the police services are facing in London today as it is also Pride…

      1. So loud outside*

        I live in the middle of London, practically next to the parade route. It’s pretty insane out there. Between the noise and the heat I doubt I’d get much sleep tonight.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Well, they won and I can hear the cheering over at the pub about a quarter mile away. Let’s hope people burn themselves out by 11 or so. Good luck!

          Cannot WAIT for this heat to break – Monday night it starts to cool off and it will be 10F cooler for Tuesday and then break for good week after. One cat won’t stop meowing at me as if I can fix this for her and the other one seems to have just gone real quiet and flattened himself against the floor. I feel so bad for them, but other than feed more wet food (with added water), and put more water around the house, and fans, not sure what else to do.

          1. London Calling*

            You and me both about this weather. Half past five pm and I’m sitting here in a long cotton nightie and nothing else, with the floor fan going and sitting right in front of it.

            1. So loud outside*

              I feel a bit silly complaining about the heat since I’m from Australia and our heatwaves are way worse than this. But then again back in Oz I’ve never lived anywhere that didn’t have air conditioning so…argh.

              (I only have a tiny desk fan since my flat is tiny. It’s not exactly great but hot days are so few and far between it’s just not worth getting anything more powerful).

              1. London Calling*

                British buildings are not build for keeping heat out but keeping heat in. My brother lives in Brisbane and 30 degrees for him is a nice spring day.

            2. London Calling*

              Just watching a programme about Svalbard in winter. Wind, snow and freezing temps. Could do with a drop of that right now.

          2. So loud outside*

            Going by your username, you don’t happen to be German do you?
            I think the English almost as happy when the Germans were eliminated as they are right now.
            For some reason I just can’t seem to get behind the England team. Nothing against the team itself (and all the fans I know in real life/follow on Twitter are absolutely lovely) but the comments in the media/online are just so…obnoxious and arrogant.

            1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

              American of German extraction, but its really more a Die Hard reference :P

              I usually cheer for Germany though once Sweden/US are knocked out, but that was kinda tough this time around. Especially when they beat Sweden at the last minute with an insane goal.

              I like Southgate as a manager and that he is keeping the team focused and there are no primadonnas (yet) on the team, but its also a strangely dull collection of players too. I remember watching England in 96/96/00/02/04 and how much more fun it was to watch that golden generation. This team actually isn’t that good, and the hyperbole is starting to take off – you cant get away from it at work or the news or wherever.

              Also, mixed in with the whole Brexit mess. I just can’t. If they go all the way then the nationalist overtones are going to go into overdrive and I think that will be a very bad place to be for a rational conversation about major EU negotiations going into March next year.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                See, that’s why I have been making a point to be a little bit interested. Of course your view is also valid, but I heard this really obnoxious snobby woman sneer at the football and how of course, only those (northern) brexit-supporting hooligans like it. I’m 100% remain but I don’t want to give snobs like that the satisfaction of being right, and I live in the north, so I went to the pub for the second half yesterday.

                Also helps that I was out shopping at half time, and the store made an annoucement that the score was Sweden 0 – England 1 and everyone in the shop cheered, so I thought that it would be fun to be with some more enthusiastic fans for a bit. I did go to the pub attached to the artsy movie theatre, though, so the crowd was a bit more, uh, refined than if I’d gone to the sports bar!

  20. Menstrual Cups!*

    So I just got a menstrual cup. I’ve been a pad user my entire life (now in 30s), but I’ve got some planned water sports coming up and I’ve also been having erratic period cycles while I adjust to some new medication. Not wanting to be left out of swimming and paddle boarding should shark week strike, I got a Lena Cup, small size.

    I like that it had zero leakage. I dislike that I’m aware of its presence. It feels like there’s pressure that I can feel. That thing is also a bitch to get out. I had to squat and bear down and found it really hard to reach and get a grip to pinch it and release the seal. Took me like 20-30 mins to get it out. How could I ever get it out in a public restroom if needed?

    Do I just need to give it more time? Should I try ordering one that is softer, or are they all kind of the same? I really want it to work out, but I need it to be more comfortable and easier to remove.

    1. Fiennes*

      I was SO PSYCHED when I got my menstrual cup, and then…I’m sorry, but are they ridiculously huge, or am I some tiny doll person? I got the smaller size and everything! I followed the folding instructions. And there was no damn way that thing was going in there without more discomfort than it could possibly be worth. After several sessions of grappling, zero success, I abandoned the experiment.

      Anyone got nice things to say about Thinx?

      1. Melody Pond*

        Of course I don’t know your specific anatomy – but with the exception of certain medical conditions (such as vaginismus for example), a typical, healthy vagina should be able to accommodate a menstrual cup comfortably. Vaginas are built to stretch – most of them are able to deliver babies, after all! Statistically, I would venture a guess/speculation that two standard deviations away from the population mean, in either direction, should be physically able to handle menstrual cups.

        Now of course that doesn’t mean you are obligated to continue trying to make it work if you don’t want to – I just wanted to encourage you that there’s a strong likelihood that 1) the right cup, 2) some different techniques, and 3) some advice/help from more experienced cup users, could mean that cups could work for you, after all. If you decide you want to give them another try. :)

        Also – THINX are great, but I actually have found that I prefer reusable cloth pads to THINX. I find them a little more comfortable and easier to deal with.

        1. Definitely Anon For This!*

          My normal healthy vagina sometimes can’t accommodate even the smallest tampons. I definitely don’t have any medical issues and I generally have no trouble accommodating, um, much larger things when I’m sufficiently aroused/relaxed (it’s a challenge if I’m not though). I guess my “resting vagina” is just small! My doctor said it’s not that unusual but people just don’t talk about vaginas that much so nobody knows that other people have the same experience. So based on that I can totally believe that there are people who can’t comfortable use menstrual cups.

      2. Hannah*

        Did you try out different folds? When I first started using one, the basic fold did NOT work at all. It was like trying to fit a turkey inside a chicken. But other folds can be much narrower.

        1. Roja*

          Same. I’ve tried using a few different folds that I look at and wonder how it’s possible for anyone to find them useful. So big! I’ve found angling it works really well.

    2. Trixie*

      From what I’ve read, it can be a lot of testing to find the right fit and feel. My question is what would I do with the items that don’t work out, try to recycle them???

      1. Melody Pond*

        You can de-stash (sell) them a few different places. Ebay is one viable option, but you can also go here:


        For me, it turned out that the two most perfect cups, at different parts of my cycle, were both the small and large Si-Bell cups. I got both of them used, through the livejournal site above (one of which simply linked to an ebay sale page). Because they can be sterilized with boiling water, this is a fairly common thing.

      2. Melody Pond*

        You can de-stash (sell) them! Ebay is one great option, but there’s a LiveJournal place for “mc-sales” that’s another great place to sell them (some people just use the LiveJournal place to link to their eBay sale page). I actually bought my two most favorite cups this way – they were used when I got them, and they’re the cups that worked out most perfectly for me.

        I’ve tried providing a link to the LiveJournal page a couple times, but it seems to be disappearing (not even going to moderation). If I can get it sorted out, I’ll try to provide a link for you.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      Have you tried tampons? I know there’s an environmental concern, but if you’ve only every used pads, maybe see how tampons feel? It might be a better option if you’re going to be out and about at the beach – easier to deal with in a public restroom.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Tampons are one option, I’d like to plug Instead cups, which are more flexible and easy to remove. They are meant to be disposed of, but you can safely use the same one for the length of your period. I loved them and only stopped because I don’t get periods anymore with my Mirena.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Oh, yes! I forgot those. I used to use those too but for a while they couldn’t be found in stores in Canada. Now they’re only available online. They’re great.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I used to use one, and I liked it. I found I could feel it if it was in even a bit crooked. If I got it in properly, I forgot about it. So it’s a combination of right size and proper insertion. The only reason I don’t use it anymore is because I got an iud and that seems to have lightened things up to where I only need a light liner.

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I LOVE my menstrual cup. I have an extremely heavy flow and an allergy to rayon (most pads have rayon in them). The first few cycles were challenging as I got used to it, and I did feel it in the beginning, but now, oddly, I only feel it when it’s full (it seems to move down when it needs emptied). I hope you’re able to get used to it and not feel it constantly. Some of it may have to do with size and how it is situated. Practice with it and if it’s uncomfortable, try to reposition it. Good luck!

    6. Allison F*

      I love my menstrual cup! Try contacting Lena’s customer support, I’ve read they’re really great and may even offer to send you a different cup at no charge. Lena makes a sensitive cup (which is what I use) that’s softer than their regular model, which may be more comfy for you.

      Using a cup will also most likely get way easier after a few cycles. The first couple periods, I spent quite a few minutes in the bathroom every time I needed to empty my cup, but I just finished my sixth cycle using the cup, and it was no more difficult than inserting or removing a tampon. You’ll figure out the best fold to use, best positioning for you, etc., with some trial and error.

      One last thing: go to putacupinit(d0t)com. Lots to read, and even a quiz to determine the best cup for you. That’s how I decided to buy the Lena Sensitive.

      1. Menstrual Cups!*

        I had no idea about the sensitive cup! Thanks for the tip! Per your suggestion, I have contacted Lena support for additional help.

        I did research before the purchase, but it was really overwhelming because there are so many options. The Lena Cup had a small option and a lot of great reviews so that’s what I tried.

    7. Melody Pond*

      Menstrual cups are great, but they do have a learning curve, and for some people, that learning curve can be very steep. It didn’t take me all that long, as I recall, but it took my sister about a year to really get the hang of her cup! She started with the Diva, used that for about six months, and then she switched to the LENA. The LENA was much better for her, but she says it took her another six months before she really got the hang of it, and knew how she could insert it perfectly so that she didn’t feel it, and so that it wouldn’t leak. She still says today that one year of “not getting it” was totally worth it, because menstrual cups are so much more convenient/comfortable/economical than disposable pads or tampons.

      So to answer your question – yes, I would definitely give it more time. However, as you’re trying to get the hang of the LENA, you might also try the LENA Sensitive – their softer cup. Firmer cups are generally a little easier to insert, because they open up easier and quicker, and there’s a better chance they’ll open right under or around your cervix (so you don’t have leaking). However, firmer cups, as you noted, can be a little more difficult to remove. Softer cups are the opposite – they can take more finesse and wrangling to get them to open in the right spot so that you don’t have leaking, but they are easier to remove.

      Also – you said you are feeling it, when you wear it – is it sitting high up enough in your vagina? Are you able to locate your cervix with your finger, and do you know whether your cervix sits relatively high, medium, or low within your vagina? One tip I always recommend – if you’re not bleeding super heavily, apply a bunch of lube to yourself before inserting the cup. (If you put a bunch of lube on the cup, that makes it way easier to drop.) Also, don’t try to insert the cup dry – at least rinse it in a bunch of water. The lube will help it open up easier and slide high up enough into the right position.

      1. Menstrual Cups!*

        I have no idea where my cervix is. The cup *seemed* pretty high up in there. I have small hands/short fingers and really struggled to remove it because I couldn’t reach the base let alone pinch it.

        Thanks for the great info about the firmer vs. softer cup. Maybe I need to give softer a try.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Yeah, it sounds like the LENA Sensitive might be worth a try, especially if the cup is sitting high up enough that you can’t reach the base with your fingers, but if you also can still feel it more than you would like.

          Just know that with a softer cup, it will likely take more skill/finesse to get it open around your cervix – I would *definitely* use the lube trick, to help ensure it opens easily. My own cervix is really low, so I can always touch it directly, and therefore I can easily make sure that it’s not outside the cup – so it sounds like my experience is really different from yours. But I know there are people with higher cervixes who still use the LENA and love it.

          You might try using the “ask a question” feature on Amazon’s page for the LENA or the LENA Sensitive, to try to ask for help/tips from cup users who have higher cervixes – that could help you find some best practices/tips for inserting and removing with a higher cervix. Also, this LiveJournal discussion form is a great place for general advice from experienced cup users:


    8. boop the first*

      I got Diva, which is apparently the least comfortable one (??). The first try was absolute torture. The 2nd try was also torture. 3rd also very uncomfortable (it felt like it was messing with my bladder). I ended up cutting off the little “handle” bit, since it’s not good for much of anything (it’s not like you can tug on it) and it felt 80% better. I also had to get over the fear of “losing it” in order to sit it up high enough that it’s forgettable. If it’s too low, it chafes badly.

      I guess my point is, it took 4 months to work out how to make it comfortable enough. It’s still more effort than pads/tampons, especially because I have stubby little fingers and I really CAN’T reach the rim. I have no problem getting it out (I just squeeze the bottom, yes it’s messy). It’s getting it to “inflate” when I can’t reach the rim that makes it tricky. THAT’S how high it has to sit to be comfortable, for me anyway.

      It can take me 5-10 mins to get it in, but because I just sit over the toilet and death squeeze it from the bottom, it comes out as fast as any tampon. And because you can leave it in for 12 hours, I put it in before I leave for work, and take it out when I get home from work, so I NEVER remove it in public so that’s never a problem.

      I like to “rest” in the evening with a pad, and then just put the cup back in for bedtime because sleeping on my back during my period without worrying is a lifechanger! Also forgetting I have my period while I’m busy at work is also a lifechanger. It’s kind of worth the initial struggle.

    9. KL*

      Try a softer one. I have a diva cup and a lena cup. The lena cup is more stiff and I can feel it more. It’s trial and error really, to find a shape and flexibility that works for you. It took me more than a couple tries to figure out how to insert it and remove it without getting frustrated, but now? I boggle that I went so long without using one! I barely think about it now, and no more nasty garbage to dispose of.

    10. Gatomon*

      I was like you, but did a brief couple of years using applicatorless tampons (like OB) prior to the menstrual cup. I used the Lena and found it worked well for me, but it did take a few cycles to get the hang of insertion/removal.

      I personally found I could go 12 hours with it even at my heaviest, so I never changed it in a public restroom. What I typically did was use a pad overnight, and inserted the cup in the morning during my shower (the warm water helps you relax). In the evening after I came home, I’d take it out and clean it, then swap in a tampon until bedtime.

    11. Cedrus Libani*

      I loved mine, but yeah, there’s a learning curve. It took me several cycles to get the hang of it.

      You shouldn’t have to yank the thing to get it out. I found that getting a finger up and nudging the side was sufficient to break the suction, and then it would come right out.

      I could feel it, but it wasn’t more obtrusive than, say, a super tampon. And within a few cycles, I could identify a specific gurgle that meant the thing was full, which meant I had about 20 minutes to find a bathroom, or else.

      As for changing it in a public restroom – this might be TMI even by menstrual cup thread standards, but I’d just take out the cup, empty it, and then rinse it with urine before putting it back. Urine is sterile, and you generally have it handy when you’re on the toilet. The one time I wiped the cup with toilet paper, I got a raging yeast infection, which I’ve never had before or since. I’d take it to the sink at home, but in public, that’s both gross and logistically challenging.

    12. Thlayli*

      If you don’t like the cup you could always try tampons? It sounds like it’s just a a temporary thing for water sports and once a tampon is in you can’t feel it at all.

    13. Hannah*

      I love my cup–I have a Pixie cup, but have also used a Diva cup. I like the Pixie because it is softer, although that does make it a little harder to unfold when it is inserted.

      But as for getting it out, you don’t want to just pull on the bottom. It has a suction seal that prevents leaks, but makes it nearly impossible to just pull out. TMI warning here, but I put my finger alongside it and break the seal first, then push the wall to the side to I can fold it a bit and get it out about at the same angle I put it in. Yes, spillage does occur that way, but I do it while sitting on the toilet.

      I also do not change it in a public bathroom, as you really need a sink nearby before you get yourself set again. But because you can go 12 hours (unless you have a really heavy flow) that is usually OK.

    14. gecko*

      More time & more practice. Get it really far up your vagina—there’s a certain screwing motion, I guess, that preserves the seal and pushes it up. The discomfort is usually from the nose of the cup poking the hell out of your labia, so just put it up further.

      For unsealing, leaning over on the toilet is usually enough to get a finger in & break the seal. Then I have to wait til everyone’s gone to wash my Lady Macbeth hands…

    15. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Definitely takes practice! I’ve had one for years (I think it’s a Diva cup) and it was really hard to get the hang of it at first. Different ways of folding it, trimming the stem at the bottom down a bit, and getting the outside wet in the sink before putting it in all helped. Even so I occasionally put it in wrong and can feel it, then I have to take it out and start over. But it’s great for outdoor pursuits!

    16. Roja*

      Welcome to the world of cups! :) First things first, check out the menstrual cups livejournal page (I’ll link in separate comment in case it takes a while to be approved), as there will be more information than you could ever want there with a lot of great advice for specific questions. That should help. If you’ve only just starting using one (sounds like it’s been a day or two?) there definitely can be a learning curve. Wait at least one full period, preferably two, before you figure out how the cup is working. Then you can tweak longer/shorter, softer/firmer, stem/no stem, all of those things. Cups can be tricky to find the best one (and some people have several different kinds for different days/needs and so on), but once you find it, it’s really fantastic.

      Re: getting it out, that could be due to a few things. According to livejournal’s sizing chart, the S Lena is a very short cup, so that might be the issue. But also, the cup sits in different places as the cervix changes height. Usually a diva (one of the longest cups) is just right for me, but there are some times when I can hardly get it out and others when it’s almost too long. I’ve even had to give up and come back later a few times when it’s really in there. It happens occasionally. If by the end of your period you still can’t get it out easily, then you may do better with a longer cup or one with a stem/ring to pull. Practically speaking, unless you work extremely long hours or your flow is really heavy, you may well never need to empty it in a public restroom. I think I need to two or three times a *year*, for reference. And you get very practiced and fast over time, like using any other tool.

      Every so often I too find the suction stronger than other times, but it shouldn’t be a normal thing. Like with tampons, if you can feel it, it’s not settled well. IIRC, when I started it took a few days for my body to get used to it and to find a comfortable place to hold it, so to speak. It’s very rare that I notice it in now, but it did feel weird at the beginning.

      So don’t give up! Getting it in easily is half the battle, honestly. If you can master that, the rest will come.

  21. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

    Things I’ve learned so far this week:
    (1) Attempting to fix a 15-year-old refrigerator is an expensive exercise in futility.
    (2) Attempting to go to a Costco warehouse the night before a holiday is very, very, very stupid.
    (3) Costco warehouses don’t directly sell refrigerators anyway.
    (4) The Simpsons portrays appliance salesmen very, very accurately.
    (5) Repeatedly telling a corporate big-box store that your apartment building has strict rules and won’t accept deliveries after 5 pm is about as effective as yelling at a wall.
    (6) Carrying bags of ice outside for just 10 minutes (I live three long avenues away from a grocery store) in a heatwave is enough time to significantly reduce the effectiveness of the ice.
    (7) I need a course in remedial math; over the past week I’ve bought about $50 worth of ice to save, at best, $25 worth of food.

    What scares me is that my week isn’t even over. I’m at the place we don’t speak of on weekends (I work one or two Saturdays per month), and while most Saturdays are pretty easy here, every fifth or sixth Saturday is a “doozy” Saturday and I’m overdue for a “doozy”. But at least when I get home, for the first time this week, I will finally have a (hopefully) working refrigerator.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Thank you! And it is resolved for now… it took about $2K, breaking several building rules and losing several years off my life out of anxiety, but we have a new refrigerator in our apartment.

    1. Artemesia*

      The good part of a refrigerator failing is that you have to throw everything out including all those half bottles of stuff you will never use but can’t throw out because they are ‘still good’ e.g. the old pickle relish, BBQ sauce, salad dressing etc. Starting over from 0 with a new refrigerator is such a pleasure.

      The last time we had one die was literally the morning we were to fly to Florida to see the last space shuttle launch (Endeavour). I hastily threw out the fresh food and the freezer contents and bought a bunch of dry ice and shut the thing up and headed for the airport. Dealt with the ugliness when we got back.

  22. Marge Gunderson*

    I’m pregnant! It is verrrry early in (4 weeks) and there is so much to learn. I have no peers or family members who have become pregnant recently (i.e. in the past 20 years) so it’s an interesting challenge to get information we trust. Husband and I are taking a calm approach but we’re already lost in a sea of books, guidelines, advice, etc. Anyone have any media that really helped them? So far I have been listening to back episodes of the One Bad Mother podcast on the Max Fun network, which I’ve been really loving. Thanks!

    1. CBE*

      Lamaze has some great stuff. Evidence based, mother friendly, friendly to both medicated and unmedicated birth etc. Giving Birth With Confidence (book and web site) are really helpful.

    2. OyVey*

      For overall what happens when, I really like the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. It’s a big book but contains tons of info, very sensible.

    3. Kj*

      Expecting Better is a an amazing book about pregnancy! The author goes through the research and makes recommendations based on the science.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Recommend The Girlfriend’s Guide by Iovine, which is older now (my kids are college and high school) but the process hasn’t changed much. Hits stuff like “Your belly button will turn inside out” (why is this not a standard thing in What to Expect?) and “E creams won’t do much for stretch marks but might help if you get all over body itching” which again, WtE just sort of waved off like all over itching was a minor thing compared to acceptance of stretch marks.

        My obstetrician explicitly made sure I knew to ignore the nutritional advice in What to Expect, which is just way over the top.

        If you get leg cramps at night, press your heels down and toes up as hard as you can.

    4. Jayeraye*

      Most hospitals have classes you can sign up for, and they are great. I loved ours – I only got to go to half of it (impatient baby), but that half gave me a guide book and taught me to swaddle, so it was a win.

      Also see if your grocery store (and other assorted big box stores) has a baby club/program. In addition to coupons mine gives out a doorstop of a book with all sorts of useful information.

      Congratulations on your little squish!

    5. Jessi*

      zero to three has some great stuff about development. I advocate reading about different parenting styles to see which one resonates with you and husband – Janet Lansbury is a great resource for parenting that treats your baby like a little person.

      Have a look out/ ask your doctor for prenatal classes in your area – great chance to meet other ladies who are also x weeks pregnant (and therefore you will all have babies the same age great) and for getting birthing info

    6. ISeeYouRN*

      Fed Is Best (on fb & a website) has some great resources about finding what fits for you and your family, and lots of support for what you plan/decide to do.

      Second the Mayo Clinic book for information.

      Also- congrats!!! There are so many ways to be a good parent- you’ve got this. Find a provider you trust & can work together with, and avoid people who perpetuate the mommy wars.

      1. CBE*

        Fed is best is…..not great. Very reactionary, inflammatory and controversial. And that’s all I will say about that. If you go there, just know that it does not have the best reputation.

    7. Thlayli*

      Some of the apps are very good. What to expect app is good, and there’s another one can’t remembef which which has very good info about what’s happening each week.

      If you want the full story of what’s happening with baby google the visible embryo – it’s the website of the Carnegie institute of embryology and it gives detailed descriptions of what happens at each stage. Fascinating.

      And congratulations.

    8. Kuododi*

      Mazel Tov!!! I’m unable to get pregnant so I have no practical survival tips to share. I would say to always remember, this is yours and your partners baby-to-be and don’t let anyone, family or otherwise pressure you into decisions with which you aren’t comfortable. Best wishes and may the blessings of the Holy One be with you and your growing family now and forever more.

    9. Ranon*

      If you like podcasts, Longest Shortest Time is really great, and if you get in a birth story mood the Birth Hour is also a great listen.

      Book wise my hands down favorite was Pregnancy for Dummies, which was the most relaxed, everything will be okay book I read. Expecting Better is a decent pop-science read, as is The Science of Mom. Mayo Clinic for when you need a straight dose of info that will keep you from googling. And Baby 411 and the AAP birth – 5 years book for that part that comes after pregnancy and lasts a whole lot longer…

      Congrats! You’re doing great, contrary to all the messaging out there there’s not actually one true way to be pregnant, you’ll figure out what works for you. People have been having babies in all sorts of ways for a very long time.

    10. Serious Sam*

      Congratulations. Not media recommendations, but from our own experience: Whatever you do, there will be someone willing to tell you that you are wrong. Be prepared to ignore these people.

  23. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Blue-grey mold spots appearing in closet, silk suits, dotting the bedroom wall.

    We’re at our wit’s end. I’ve been spraying vinegar on the walls to stem the spread, using a small dehumidifier too. AC is low, and the only reason I can think this happened is temperature differences between rooms.

    We left 4 messages for maintenance to fix this. They called (left no message). Honestly all other times, they’ve fixed things asap. All I want is for mold to leave.

    Any tips to remove mold? My worst nightmare is leaving for a weekend trip and returning to a Jumanji mold forest :/

    1. Artemesia*

      I’d be wondering if there were a building issue like slow leaks. Really sounds like a change in moisture issues. Dehumidifiers work if the problem is humidity but if you have a leak then only fixing the leak works.

      The only thing I have found that nails mold is bleach. I sprayed our showers for years with a dilute bottle of bleach and water and we never had mold on the tile or grout. I would wait until after my husband had showered and we could basically close off the shower room for a few hours and then spray and close the door leaving the bathroom fan on . (our master had the toilet/shower in a separate small compartment).

    2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I wonder if there’s a leak somewhere that’s causing the mold. Our old apartment had a leak somewhere in the roof, and we lived on the top floor. It resulted in our paint peeling and when our superintendent broke through the wall… I saw enough mold to make me woozy. Your best bet is, unfortunately, to stay on top of your management company if you’re renting. Good luck.

    3. Massmatt*

      Bleach etc will kill mold but if you have the conditions for mold (damp, and still air) it will return. Try to get the air circulating, use a fan. This may help with evaporating the moisture also. Good luck!

    4. Gatomon*

      Sounds like there’s a leak somewhere in the building. Is this an exterior wall or near piping? You might try a HEPA filter (a true HEPA filter, not a HEPA-type) to filter the spores out of the air. Bleach is effective but damaging. I would evacuate that room if you can.

      Check your state’s rental laws. You may be able to withhold rent or break the lease if this isn’t dealt with in a timely manner.

    5. Penguin*

      If it came down to it, and if the wall happens to be one of the very few colors in which it is available, you could paint the wall with a mold/mildew-resistant paint (often used in bathrooms) to reduce mold returning after being killed. But ultimately it sounds like a problem that maintenance needs to investigate, probably involving cutting holes in the wall to find out if there’s evidence of water or leaks.

    6. Thlayli*